June is celebrated as Pride Month by supporters of LGBTQ equality in the U.S., which means it is also an opportunity for religious-right groups and leaders to vent about the progress the LGBTQ community has made toward legal and lived equality.
Far-right minister Franklin Graham, for example, expressed his outrage that LGBTQ equality is once again the policy of the U.S. government, reflected in some embassies’ decision to fly a rainbow flag:
“Shame on our State Department for allowing the American Embassy at the Vatican to fly the LGBTQ pride flag,” he wrote on Twitter. ”What an insult to the Catholic Church! This flag is promoting an agenda, not a country, & to give it equal billing with the American flag is wrong.”
The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins is also unhappy about the Biden administration’s pro-equality policies. A June 3 message from Perkins reeks of bitterness:
It’s been four years since Americans have had to live through an administration’s month-long rainbow love fest. Of course, Joe Biden, who made LGBT activism his number-one priority, didn’t wait for June to start his radical government revolution. From the minute he stepped into the Oval Office, the perversion of education, health care, our troops, foreign policy, taxpayer spending, facilities, school sports, and social services has been at the top of his to-do list. Already, the president brags in his proclamation on LGBT Pride month, he’s managed to saturate his administration with an army of LGBT extremists. “Nearly 14 percent of my 1,500 agency appointees identify as LGBTQ” — giving the radical agenda a foothold in every level of government.
Making matters more outrageous, Biden has decided to order everyone in a military uniform to play along.
A day later, FRC Action sent a fundraising email from Perkins warning that “if we allow the Equality Act to reach President Biden’s desk, we will witness one of the most radical left-turns in our nation’s history,” adding that the nation would be “fundamentally changed.”
The National Organization for Marriage, which does not view marriage equality as settled law and hopes that former President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justices will overturn it, pushed its own complaint about Pride Month in an email from its president Brian Brown last Friday.
Under the headline “Proud of what?” Brown suggested that during the month of June, parents should “turn the TV off, avoid rainbow-themed products and the grocery store and absolutely to not subject your family to the depravity and raunchiness of the so-called ‘Pride Parades’ that have become so common, especially in urban areas.”
Brown asked for money to support NOM’s work “on the front lines fighting against the indoctrination of children into the LGBT lifestyle and to restore marriage to our national laws.” Brown warned, “LGBT extremists and their allies will seemingly stop at nothing to see people like us crushed, driven from the public square, marginalized and maligned, thrown into the dustbin of history.”
Intercessors for America, a network of “prayer warriors” that functions as a zealous promoter of Trump, noted unhappily that June is also the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s pro-marriage equality ruling in Obergefell. In a cover letter sent with IFA’s June newsletter, Dave Kubal wrote, “In June 2015, the Supreme Court handed down the disastrous Obergefell decision that required all states to issue same-sex marriage licenses and accelerated the cultural path toward unbiblical morality.”
The IFA newsletter features an article by IFA Communications Director Judy McDonough titled, “How Did Wedding Month Become Pride Month?”
“June used to be the most common month for weddings, with brides and grooms everywhere,” McDonough complained. “Now, June means gay pride images and advertisements championing the LGBTQ+ community.”
McDonough blamed the advance of pro-equality policies on “the LGBTQ+ ‘rebranding’ and ‘victimhood’ marketing propaganda” that she claims was led by Hollywood and the music and media industries after the HIV/AIDS epidemic “severely damaged the image of the LGBTQ+ community.”
McDonough cited the Family Research Council’s opposition to the federal Equality Act, warning that it “would give special protection for LGBTQ+ behavior” and “require the faith community to accept sexual ideologies antithetical to core beliefs.”
Religious-right groups are universally opposed to the Equality Act, but perhaps no one is more dishonest about the law’s requirements than Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who said in a June 5 email that the Equality Act would give “legal rights” to pedophilia. Staver has repeatedly told his followers that that law would require religious schools to hire “goat lovers.”
Staver’s convoluted reasoning, if that’s the correct word, is that the Q in LGBTQ stands for Queer, which, Liberty Counsel has falsely concluded, somehow means that the law would give legal protections to nearly 550 “paraphilias,” including pedophilia. In truth, the Equality Act defines sexual orientation to mean heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.
In a June 3 email marked “URGENT,” Staver wrote, “Eager to advance a radical LGBTQ agenda, Joe Biden just put Kamala Harris in charge of HR 5 [the Equality Act] to get it passed before the end of June—the so-called ‘Pride’ month.” Staver added, “The pressure to force HR 5’s perverse LGBT and ‘Q’ agenda on everyone, including churches and religious schools, is now on maximum overdrive.”
Liberty Counsel claims that the bill “literally sets the stage for banning the Bible”—the kind of false alarmist claim that was also made about federal hate crimes legislation signed by President Barack Obama.
Cliff Kincaid, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “an unrepentant propagandist for extremist right-wing causes” with “a special loathing for gays and lesbians,” weighed in on Wednesday with a blog post complaining, “While gays are entitled to ‘pride,’ morally straight white people are not. This is America 2021.”
One sign of the religious right’s intolerance of any expression of support for LGBTQ equality was the backlash against Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who tweeted a “Happy #PrideMonth” message on June 2, saying, “@GOP is proud to have doubled our LGBTQ support over the last 4 years, and we will continue to grow our big tent by supporting measures that promote fairness and balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs.”
Some LGBTQ people responded with truth-telling about the GOP’s anti-LGBTQ record and Republican officials’ ongoing attacks on the rights of transgender people. But, those critics were not as vociferous as the FRC’s Perkins, who urged followers to stop contributing money to the RNC until it “gets its act together and decided to represent real conservative values.” In another tweet, Perkins claimed that “religious freedom is being endangered by those demanding forced acceptance of the LGBTQ agenda from the elementary classroom to the corporate board room and everything in between.” He added, “There can be no compromise on our First Freedom.”
Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign attorney, also slammed McDaniel, tweeting, “We are (or used to be) a party of conservative principles and traditional values. I and millions of decent, faith-based Americans, will never endorse a leftist, immoral agenda.”