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Law Center Designates Conservative Pro-Family Organizations 'Hate Groups'

Be careful! If you have traditional ideas about marriage, family and sexuality, you may as well join the KKK or get yourself an S.S. uniform.


The Southern Poverty Law Center has announced that it will designate 13 pro-family organizations as “hate groups” next year, placing them alongside groups like the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo-Nazi movement and the New Black Panther Party.


The list of pro-family organizations includes several prominent conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Organization for Marriage. While the mainstream media has not given the story much coverage, liberal columnists have praised the SLPC's decision.


At the Los Angeles Times, Tim Rutten wrote that groups like the Family Research Council “published statistical compendiums purporting to quantify the 'evils' of homosexuality.” Rutten compared these views to the advocacy of racial segregation during the Civil Rights movement.


“Such rhetoric is eerily reminiscent of that with which religiously affiliated opponents of African American equality once defended segregation,” Rutten wrote. “It wasn't all that long ago that some of them argued against school integration because, they alleged, black adolescents were uniquely unable to control sexual impulses and, therefore, would assault white schoolgirls. Exhortations against 'race mixing' were commonplace pulpit messages short decades ago, though we now recognize them as hate speech. It's past time to do the same with rhetoric that denigrates gays and lesbians.”


And at Salon.com, one writer expressed surprise that organizations would take offense at being labeled “hate groups.”


“Oh, this is just rich: The Family Research Council (FRC) is upset that it's been categorized as a 'hate group' in The Southern Poverty Law Center's report this week on rabidly anti-gay organizations,” wrote Tracy Clark-Flory. After listing some statements made by FRC members who oppose gay marriage, support “Don't Ask Don't Tell” and have called for the criminalization of gay sex, Clark-Flory added, “Hmm, sure looks like hate and acts like hate. As the saying goes, don't blame the mirror if the reflection is ugly.


The Southern Poverty Law Center has admirable roots as a law firm that battled hate groups like the Klan, but conservatives say the SPLC has become entrenched in left-wing politics and is using its history as a civil rights champion to target political groups it disagrees with.


Columnist J. Matt Barber pointed out in the Washington Times that “the FRC and AFA play host to presidential candidates, lawmakers and top conservative leaders from around the world at Washington's annual Values Voters Summit – one of the largest conservative political gatherings of the year.”


“Of course, the tired goal of this silly meme is to associate in the public mind's eye mainstream conservative social values with racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism,” wrote Barber. “The ironic result, however, is that, as typically occurs with such ad hominem and hyperbolic attacks, the attacker ends up marginalizing himself and galvanizing his intended target (I'm rubber, you're glue and all that).”


Tony Perkins, the president of the FRC, also suggested the SLPC's decision was politically motivated. “The Southern Poverty Law Center is a massively funded liberal organization that operates under a veneer of public justice when, in fact, they seem more interested in fundraising ploys than fighting wrongdoing,” said Perkins.


While the SPLC says these “pro-family” groups “pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities,” the organizations deny that their message is hateful. They say that they are simply working to promote the traditional definition of marriage.


"This is about protecting marriage. This isn't about being anti-anyone," National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown told the Washington Post. "The whole idea that somehow those folks who stand up for traditional marriage, like the Family Research Council, are hateful is wrong. [The law center is] trying to marginalize and intimidate folks for standing up for marriage and also trying to equate them somehow to the KKK."


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