The office of House Speaker John Boehner secured meeting space for the World Congress of Families after their original sponsor, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, canceled their space in a Senate office building following an outcry from LGBT activists, the group's leader said. World Congress of Families president Allan Carlson praised Boehner's intervention at in opening remarks at the event, which is focusing on what "pro-family legislators" can learn from foreign laws like Russia's ban on "promoting non-traditional sexual relationships to minors." "At least in the House of Representatives people have not succumbed to the great fear" of LGBT activists, Carlson said, likening the situation to developments in Germany, France, and Italy as fascism took hold of Europe.
When it comes to conservative culture-war groups, the World Congress of Families probably isn't much of a household name. It's an Illinois-based group that seeks to "restore the natural family" -- i.e., no gays -- as "the fundamental social unit in the seed bed of civil society."
As Rachel explained on the show back in September, the World Congress of Families gained greater prominence this year when it announced it would hold an international gathering next year at the Kremlin in Moscow. The point, of course, was for these anti-gay American activists to celebrate Vladimir Putin's anti-gay crackdown.
As it happens, the World Congress of Families was also scheduled to hold an event in a U.S. Senate room today, and asked their in-state senator, Republican Mark Kirk, to give them a hand. Initially, Kirk obliged, but yesterday, the senator canceled the group's access. The Illinois senator is pretty moderate on LGBT issues and as his office explained last night, Kirk "doesn't affiliate with groups that discriminate."
Larry Jacobs, the World Congress of Families' managing director, blasted Kirk for listening to "radical sexual minorities," adding, "Obviously Senator Kirk doesn't care about families and children and freedom and has chosen to side with the policies of decline, death and disease promoted by the Sexual Radicals."
But there was also a more short-term, practical concern for the far-right group: if they just lost their Capitol Hill meeting space, what will they do this afternoon? It turns out the group has friends in high places.
Yesterday the House Speaker offered a ridiculous explanation for his opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and today he's coming to the rescue of the anti-gay World Congress of Families.
Right-wing social conservatives often question congressional Republican leaders' commitment to the culture war, but it certainly seems as if anti-gay forces have an ally in the Speaker's office.
Update: Boehner's spokesperson said in a statement this morning, “One of the duties of the Speaker’s office is scheduling rooms throughout the Capitol complex, and we routinely provide a forum for discussion of public policy issues from across the political spectrum, including for liberal causes. This administrative task obviously does not imply endorsement of any particular point of view.”