Anti-Gay Groups Host “Thanksgiving Family Forum” with GOP Presidential Candidates

by HRC Staff

Event will serve as fundraiser for anti-gay group The Family Leader


Washington– The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, is taking GOP presidential candidates to task for embracing hostile anti-gay groups by participating in Saturday’s “Thanksgiving Family Forum.” This debate-style forum billed as an “in-depth conversation” in Des Moines, IA is hosted by leading anti-gay groups The Family Leader, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), and Focus on the Family. Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul are confirmed to attend.

“These groups are among the most viciously anti-gay out there,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “By participating in this debate, the GOP presidential candidates are proving – as most of them have many times in the past – that they are beholden to extremist groups and do not represent the viewpoints of mainstream Americans – nearly 80 percent of whom see LGBT discrimination as a problem, according to recent polling. With ticket packages for this forum selling for as high as $1,500, the candidates are essentially raising funds for a group does nothing except demonize and spread dangerous lies about LGBT Americans.”

The Family Leader is led by Bob Vander Plaats. He has previously called being gay a public health risk akin to secondhand smoking, saying: “If we’re teaching the kids, “don’t smoke, because that’s a risky health style,” the same can be true of the homosexual lifestyle. That’s why I think we need to speak the truth once in a while.” Vander Plaats also has said that allowing loving, committed same-sex couples to marry would lead to the end of private property and incest.

Earlier this year, the Family Leader released its “Marriage Vow” for GOP presidential candidates. The Vow claimed homosexuality was both a choice and a risk to public health. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum signed the document. Read the Family Leader’s “Marriage Vow: A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family.”

NOM also has a “Marriage Pledge,” signed by almost all of the leading GOP candidates. In its Pledge, NOM calls on the candidates, if elected, to set up a McCarthy presidential commission to investigate claims of harassment against traditional marriage supporters. Earlier this week, HRC issued a memo highlighting that NOM’s claims of “harassment” – purely a tactical move to evade campaign disclosure laws – have been soundly rejected in every single court in which NOM has filed a challenge.

Frank Luntz – billed as “America’s Favorite Pollster” by the forum sponsors – will moderate Saturday’s discussion.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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