Family Research Council accuses Southern Poverty Law Center of sparking shooter’s hatred

WASHINGTON — The head of the Family Research Council on Thursday (Aug. 16) accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of … Continued

WASHINGTON — The head of the Family Research Council on Thursday (Aug. 16) accused the Southern Poverty Law Center of sparking hatred that led accused gunman Floyd Lee Corkins II to shoot a security guard at the conservative Christian lobbying group’s headquarters.

FRC president Tony Perkins called the Wednesday shooting “an act of domestic terrorism.”

“Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins said.

The SPLC tracks domestic extremists and lists the FRC as an “anti-gay” hate group. On Thursday, Perkins called “an end to the reckless rhetoric that I believe led to yesterday’s incident that took place right here.”

The SPLC’s Mark Potok called Perkins’ accusations “outrageous,” and said his group is committed to offering “legitimate and fact-based criticism.”

“The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false,” Potok wrote on the SPLC’s blog. “It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.”

Corkins, 28, of Herndon, Va., had volunteered at The DC Center, a gay advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

He has not been charged with a hate crime, but was found to be carrying symbols of a recent flare-up in the culture wars. Corkins was found to be carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches when he was arrested, along with a 9 mm pistol and 50 rounds of ammunition.

The fast-food chain’s president Dan Cathy ignited an uproar in August when he voiced opposition to gay marriage. According to Chick-fil-A’s website, the privately-held corporation’s purpose is “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”

NPR reported that Corkins was charged with a federal offense of transporting weapons and ammunition across state lines, and a District of Columbia offense of assault with the intent to kill while armed.

The local assault charge carries a maximum 30-year sentence, with a five-year mandatory minimum. The federal weapons charge carries a 10-year maximum sentence.

Security guard Leo Johnson, who was unarmed, was shot in the arm. Perkins said Johnson was recovering after surgery Wednesday night. Johnson is employed directly by the FRC as a building operations manager and security guard.

Perkins acknowledged that a coalition of gay rights groups — including the DC Center — condemned the attack even before the suspect was named. “I was shocked to hear that someone who has volunteered with the DC Center could be the cause of such a tragic act of violence,” said David Mariner, director of The DC Center.

“No matter the circumstances, we condemn such violence in the strongest terms possible. We hope for a full and speedy recovery for the victim and our thoughts are with him and his family,” he said.

The American Family Association issued amplified the FRC’s condemnation of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“They have repeatedly and without cause demonized FRC, and have spent years stirring up anger in the homosexual community and directing that anger toward an organization whose only crime is to promote and defend the classic American values of faith, family and freedom,” the group read.

“Thus according to SPLC’s own standards, it is the SPLC that is to blame for yesterday’s shooting.”

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  • MrDarwin

    “Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy.”

    Anybody who has been paying attention to what Mr. Perkins and the Family Research Council have been saying about gay people, our relationships, and gay rights organizations knows how disingenuous and hypocritical these words sound coming from his lips. But let’s take him at his word; in fact, let’s hold him to it: when you vilify, demean, and demonize a group, it encourages and feeds into any violence against that group. So is Mr. Perkins ready to walk back some of the rhetoric coming from his own side, and denounce the violence that is perpetrated on gay people on a daily basis? The fact is that gay people have been almost without fail peaceful in our fight to guarantee our rights in the face of intimidation, harassment, threats, vandalism, assault, and even murder. Sadly, his group and others are already capitalizing on this isolated incident to paint those who object to what groups like the FRC say and do as out-of-control, hateful extremists who are being incited to violence by their leaders. But what makes this story so striking, what makes it a man-bites-dog story, is precisely how unusual this isolated violent incident is. Seriously, when is the last time anybody heard about a gay person shooting up an anti-gay right-wing group, or anything remotely similar? Meanwhile the Washington Post is doing a disservice to its readers by not reporting on just why the FRC has been branded a hate group by the SPLC, and what Mr. Perkins and his group have said and done that gay people object to.

  • jay2drummer

    They don’t advocate violence against homosexuals? You mean other than the killing of them, right?

    Marriage is what it has always been? So I don’t have to pick one girl, I can have as many as I want, right? LGBT groups are in no way insisting marriage be perverted, they are insisting the Constitution be upheld. You know, that whole part where it says all people are guaranteed equal protection? And how does allowing gays to marry have anything to do with polygamy, bestiality, or incest? Allowing gays to marry gives them the same rights as non-gays: the right to marry the person they love and the legal rights and privileges that come with being able to claim your spouse. Polygamists are not being denied anything, as they already have the right to marry the person they love, it just has to be one person, like everyone else. Incest is illegal because there is scientific evidence that incest leads to children with higher rates of mental and physical disabilities. Incest is also a strawman, as in the case of gays, you have 2 consenting adults, whereas an animal cannot legally consent.

  • ejruddock

    I’ve never thought about it before, but if it is okay for lgbt people to marry like non-gays, if you claim protection under the constitution, then why wouldn’t lesbian and gays support polygamy for mormons or for heterosexuals or even for homosexuals. It appears you want to set the rules for you and every one else as to what marriage means based on your concept of marriage, just as you rebel against the laws that restrict your rights to marry the person you want to even if they are the same sex.. You seek freedom for yourselves based on the constitution, but you want to restrict freedom from those who would want to enter into a polygamous relationship. I am not advocating polygamy, I am just asking that if changing the laws based on protection under the constitution for gays and lesbians is right, why is it not also right to change it for polygamists. As far as I know there are no scientific reasons to restrict people from practicing polygamy. If lgbt supports only marriage between two individuals, then you are in fact supporting the stance of the religious right who support marriage between only two individuals, be it that they prefer marriage between a man and woman. You say polygamists are not being denied anything, but they are being denied the right to marry more than one person at a time, regardless of whether it is male-female, or all male, or all female.