Post submitted by Rebecca Parks, former Associate Director, HRC Global
As NOM’s losses pile up here at home, Brian Brown has increasingly looked overseas for speaking opportunities and support. Since 2012, Brown has piled up the frequent flier miles visiting Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, Spain and Russia, but he has found a particularly cozy relationship with his radical anti-LGBT brethren in France.
In January 2013, Brian Brown arrived in Paris to attend an anti-marriage equality rally organized by Manif Pour Tous, an extremist group that many consider to be the French equivalent of the Tea Party. Brown called his trip a “blessing” and proclaimed that he was “proud to be a part of this historic moment in France.” Brown followed up his trip by penning a love letter to the “French resistance” praising their “great battle of civilization.” Brown returned to Europe a few months later in June and accompanied a group of French anti-LGBT activists on a trip to Moscow where they testified before the parliament in support of a bill banning adoption of Russian orphans by same sex couples. Days after they arrived, Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law. Brown and NOM also appear to be sharing social media resources with French anti-equality groups.
Brown’s foreign exchange with the French radical right has gone both ways. In 2013, Ludovine de la Rochere, one of the co-founders of Manif Pour Tous addressed NOM’s Marriage March and she’s coming back for a repeat performance this year. De le Rochere’s rhetoric fits right in with that of her hardline American friends and last year she told the crowd, “We do not have the same notion of equality as our opponents do” and that equality would mean children’s lives would be “woven around lies.”
The Manif movement has had had serious impact on the political landscape in France. Although the country enacted marriage equality last year over their vociferous objection, the group has been successful at turning back an attempt to reform adoption laws to make it easier for all types of families to welcome children into their homes. Manif Pour Tous rallies at times have turned violent and French LGBT activists reported a 78 percent increase in anti-LGBT hate crimes in the year since the protests began. As Brian Brown loses friends at home, these are the people he has turned to overseas to bolster his anti-equality ranks.