The XX Factor

Tony Perkins Tries To Show His Softer Side. Is Unconvincing.

Tony Perkins, values voter

Photograph by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Starting tomorrow, the annual gathering of embryo-worshippers and creationists known as the Values Voters Summit, run by the Family Research Council, begins in Washington D.C. For those who bristle at the phrase “values voters” and its implication that those of us that disagree with the summit attendees don’t have values, take heart. Perhaps it’s just a way for the FRC to differentiate their people from “facts voters.”

The event kicked off yesterday with FRC’s president Tony Perkins speaking at a luncheon at the National Press Club, which is the sort of thing that will startle future generations in the same way we’re startled now to learn about how much political power the KKK had in the 1920s.

Perkins is still smarting from the FRC rightfully being labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, even though the SPLC has a well-articulated reason for giving them that designation. So when an audience member—a friendly, mind you—asked him if he would disown a child who came out as gay, he went out of his way to paint himself as a generous man who is full of love and would never do such a thing. And then he compares homosexuality to drug addiction:

PERKINS: I would not disown my children for anything, but let me say this … I believe that as a parent that I have a responsibility for the environment in which I raise my children. And I believe as a parent, we have the ability to protect them from a lot of unfortunate experiences that have shaping influences upon their lives …

We can do our very best job as a parent and still something may happen, whether they end up in drugs or whether they end up in some other lifestyle that they end up in … They’re our children. We’ll always love them, but we don’t necessarily condone what they do. And if we really love them, we’ll be willing to tell them the truth that the choices that they have made to continue in what they are doing are both destructive to them personally and to society as a whole.

Telling Christians not to disown their children for being gay may feel to Perkins like some tremendous act of generosity, but for actual gay people, having your parents constantly lecture you for your “lifestyle” isn’t any better. In fact, for many gay people, refusing to speak to your parents—essentially, disowning them—until they cut it out is a necessary part of maintaining basic mental health.

It’s really worth listening to the whole thing, to really take in the self-congratulatory tone, as if he really has that SPLC on the ropes.