​Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, former HRC Press Secretary

In 1989, attorney Matthew Staver and his wife, Anita, founded Liberty Counsel, a legal organization aimed at “advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family.”  But a primary focus of the organization over the years has been preventing and attacking the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world.  In fact, Liberty Counsel and its leaders have compared LGBT equality advocates to terrorists, said the country’s evolution toward embracing LGBT people will cause God to destroy America, and even advocates for draconian laws around the world that make it a crime to be LGBT.

Staver now serves as dean of the law school at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and Liberty Counsel has opened an office on the university’s campus. The organization continues to raise millions of dollars each year, even though it has taken part or carried out a laundry list of shocking and deplorable acts against the rights of LGBT people. Here are 10 things you should know about Liberty Counsel:

1. Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver says LGBT young people have “confusion” because of “the likes of a Jerry Sandusky abuser,” so they need to be cured by dangerous attempts to change their sexual orientation – a practice that has been condemned by every major medical and mental health organization in the country.

2. Liberty Counsel actively and aggressively defended exporter of hate Scott Lively in U.S. District Court when he was defending himself against charges of “crimes against humanity” for his involvement pushing Uganda’s odious anti-LGBT law, which promises life in prison for Ugandans convicted of being gay. Lively told Ugandans that “predatory gays” are “looking for other people to be able to prey upon” and bragged that “our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the ‘gay’ agenda in Uganda.” Liberty Counsel called the suit an attempt by the “intolerant homosexual lobby” to “intimidate” people from going overseas.

3. Liberty Counsel supports and defends archaic laws criminalizing homosexuality with harsh punishments around the world, and has condemned President Obama and the U.S. government for speaking out against such laws, saying, “America should not be trying to make that country act in an immoral way.”

4. Liberty Counsel says that judges and magistrates in marriage equality states who go rogue and refuse to marry same-sex couples are basically like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. Telling two people in love they can’t get married = advancing core civil rights like voting protections and equal treatment under the law.

5. Even better -- Liberty Counsel compared marriage equality to slavery and forced sterilization. Enter Mat Staver: “It’s shameful for the Supreme Court for what they have done to marriage as it has been shameful in the history of the court with regards to the Dred Scott decision or the Buck v. Bell decision, where they said that the state of Virginia can forcibly sterilize her because of this eugenics idea that they want to eliminate the undesirables of the world. That was the shameful day that we ultimately look back with shame upon and I think this is going to be one of those same kind of situations.”

6. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber attacked U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s son for living an “abhorrent lifestyle” (being gay). Liberty Counsel’s Mat Saver referred to Portman as being one of “the cockroaches within the Republican Party” for standing with his son and supporting marriage equality.

7. Liberty Counsel thinks being LGBT is not only a health hazard, but is also just like being a drug addict, which justifies legal discrimination. They actually said, “Both are about protecting children and society. Laws that single out those who want to engage in a harmful behavior, like drug laws that discriminate against heroin users, are not unlawful discrimination but rather compassionate public policy.”

8. Liberty Counsel advocated on behalf of a woman named Lisa Miller who claims to have “renounced homosexuality” thanks to her religion, and then kidnapped and fled the country with her child in order to avoid allowing her same-sex former partner – the child’s other parent – from seeing her. She fled after she was found in contempt of court for denying a Vermont court order that she grant the child’s other mother visitation. Coincidentally, it was reported in 2011 that Miller and her child were living in Nicaragua in a home owned by Mat Staver’s administrative assistant’s father.

9. Liberty Counsel has claimed that LGBT hate crimes protections are part of the “radical homosexual anarchist agenda.” Laws aimed at preventing anti-LGBT bias motivated crimes “trample the free exercise of religion,” according to Mat Staver. “Pedophiles find refuge in this so-called hate crimes bill, while veterans and grandmas are left to fend for themselves.”

10. Liberty Counsel calls a bill that would protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, “one of the most dangerous and discriminatory pieces of legislation in modern times.”  According to them, prohibiting employers from discriminating against an employee for being LGBT is actually forcing them to “abandon the biblical and traditional values” in order to protect “those who openly flaunt expressly sinful and demonstrably self-destructive sexual behavior.” AKA Tim Cook.

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