The Advocate recently posted an article on how Minnesota Senator Al Franken has condemned homophobic comments by a members of a right-wing group in his state. Acknowledging the reality of anti-LGBT bullying, Franken advocated for measures to combat bullying.
Franken was responding to comments by Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard, who reportedly blogged that “homosexual activists” were manipulating the media and that homosexuality is an "unhealthy" lifestyle. The Minnesota Family Council is a right-wing organization with anti-LGBT, anti-abortion, and pro-abstinence-only sex ed views, as I quickly learned when I visited their website.
According to an article posted at the Twin Cities Daily Planet, Prichard claimed that the suicide of 15 year-old Justin Aaberg was being "manipulated" by homosexuals to allegedly get indoctrination into schools. He argued for the removal of gay-straight alliances from schools, saying that it was "sad and harmful" for young people to condone homosexuality. How any human being could say such things in the wake of a young person's tragic death defies comprehension. Such is the callousness of too many figures among the Religious Right.
None of this rhetoric is new, unfortunately. We've heard it before from the likes of Focus on the Family, the American Family Association, and other homophobic Religious Right organizations. The damage that such intolerance causes is very real, as evidenced by a string of suicides by young people who were bullied for being LGBT. The suicides have to stop. The hate crimes have to stop. The discrimination has to stop. For all these to occur, homophobia has to stop!
I commend Senator Franken for speaking out against homophobia and taking direct action on behalf of youth. (For example, in May he introduced the federal Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring anti-LGBT bullying.) Let's condemn those who fuel bigotry and commend leaders like Franken who stand up for justice.