Point-by-Point Takedown of an Anti-Gay Infomercial

The anti-gay Family Research Council has a new video about how the gays are ruining everything, what with their pesky marrying and buying of cakes and, well, simply existing. And this video isn't just a video -- it's part of a crafty advertising campaign, designed to slip homophobic propaganda into churches and to manipulate captive audiences into donating cash to FRC.

The campaign is called "Stand for Marriage Sunday," and the idea is that thousands of churches across the country will show the video, which attacks gay couples, during Sunday services. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the video ends with a sales pitch for a $20 DVD set featuring more anti-gay videos created by Rick Santorum's company.

The FRC's Sunday video is full of distortions, convenient omissions and outright lies -- for example, the claim that most Americans oppose marriage equality, when in fact opposition has dropped to the 30s. And that's only the tip of the iceberg -- I've created this video takedown, detailing all of the problems with FRC's anti-gay propaganda and explaining exactly why they're so very wrong.

The video starts with a Ronald Reagan quote about the importance of defending freedom. That sounds nice, but FRC President Tony Perkins isn't using the word "freedom" the way you think. He's really talking about the freedom to discriminate -- in other words, the freedom to intrude on other people's freedom.

Perkins, in case you're unfamiliar, is one of the top anti-gay figures in the country. He called homosexuality "morally wrong," and supports ex-gay child "therapy." He once got caught buying a mailing list from a Ku Klux Klansman, and got FRC designated as a hate group.

What's so hateful about Perkins and FRC? Well, for starters, there's all the misinformation about gays and lesbians in this very video. Perkins claims that a majority of Americans oppose marriage equality. He cites a recent study that purports to back him up -- the only catch is that he paid for the study, and the "research" was actually conduced by a right-wing PR film.

In truth, public support for marriage equality has never been stronger.

From there, Perkins launches into an attack on LGBTs, defending businesses that turn away gay customers. He claims that government shouldn't be allowed to enforce nondiscrimination laws, at least not where gays and lesbians are concerned.

Is he actually right, that the Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom should give him a license to do whatever he wants? No, of course not. That's not how it works -- you're free to believe whatever you want in private. But in public, we all have to follow a set of basic laws. And when you act on a belief that harms people (like evicting someone for being gay, or firing them, or denying them access to services), there are sometimes legal consequences. Poor Tony Perkins doesn't want to have to face those consequences.

But don't worry: Perkins has advice for the nervous homophobes, terrified that LGBTs are coming to marry somewhere near them. All you have to do is send him $20, and he'll send you three DVDs full of yet more videos about how terrible gays are, and how oppressed religious people are. You're supposed to watch the videos, then give them away, so as many people see them (and are misled by them) as possible.

The video ends with another Reagan quote about defending freedom. But he's not talking about religion -- the soundbite is actually taken out of context from a record that he made in 1961, accusing Medicare of being a socialist plot.

Reagan was wrong then, and Perkins is wrong now. Providing medical care to the elderly, believe it or not, did not lead to the downfall of civilization. And treating LGBTs equally won't, either.

it's worth pointing out that around the same time he made his anti-Medicare record, Reagan also opposed California's Fair Housing Act. He gave a speech in which he said that landlords should be able to deny housing on the basis of a person's skin color.

"If an individual wants to discriminate against Negroes or others in selling or renting his house, it is his right to do so," Reagan said.

That sounds shocking today, but his justification was that "freedom" should give powerful people the right to oppress others. It's the exact same justification Tony Perkins is using now.

Once the Supreme Court rules on marriage, probably around June, you can expect anti-gay rhetoric like this to ramp up even further. So brace yourself -- it's going to be ugly.