Tony Perkins, the president of the
Family Research Council (FRC), says neither he nor his group
sanctions the criminalization of gay sex.
Perkins went on MSNBC's Hardball
on Monday to defend his group against claims by the Southern
Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calling the FRC a hate group.
The SPLC recently added the FRC, a
group that opposes gay rights, to the same list of hate groups as the
Ku Klux Klan, the Nation of Islam and the Aryan Nations. Also
added were the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the
nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, and the
Christian conservative group American Family Association (AFA), which
claims that “homosexuals controlled the Nazi Party and helped
orchestrate the Holocaust.”
In adding the FRC to its list of hate
groups the SPLC noted that the group's senior researcher, Peter
Sprigg, told Hardball host Chris Matthews in February that
“gay behavior” should be criminalized.
Perkins dismissed the claim, arguing
that Sprigg was merely making the point “that in 2003 we were
opposed to the overturning of the sodomy laws in the Lawrence vs.
Texas case.” The Supreme Court overturned state sodomy laws in
Lawrence vs. Texas.
“We have not been, we are not, and we
are not going to be working to re-criminalize homosexual behavior.
That's not the issue today,” Perkins said. “What's at issue here
is an attempt to take our public policies and enshrine homosexual
behavior as some protected class, redefining marriage – and of
course voters in 31 states have rejected that idea – that's what
we're working on. We have never put forth a policy that would
re-criminalize homosexual behavior.”
Matthews then asked the SPLC's Mark
Potok if Perkins' assertion was sufficient to have the group removed
from its list.
“No, I think it's ridiculous,” he
replied. “And I say that for this reason. Peter Sprigg went on
your air just as I am doing as a representative of his organization.
The Family Research Council made no sound about this, there was
nothing remotely approaching a repudiation or even a clarifying
statement about the statements that were made.” (The video is
embedded in the right panel of this page.)