Concerned Women for America has posted videos of the event on Vimeo, in which speakers celebrate international anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion efforts while downplaying frightening anti-gay developments in Russia.
Allan Carlson, president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, introduced the symposium with a warning about "a great fear" sweeping over the U.S. government. At the 0:58 mark, he claimed that ideas were allegedly being suppressed in America, likening the U.S. to the fascist regimes of 20th century Europe.
"A great fear seems to be descending over what has been called the world's greatest deliberative body. In the domain of the Senate, it appears, ideas are being suppressed, debate is being shut off, minds are being closed. By training, I'm a historian of modern Europe. The parallel that I see here is what happened in Italy, Germany, and other lands in the 1920s and the 1930s as fascism began to impose its fear-driven grip on debate, on conversation, and on policy-making."Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, spoke about the spread of LGBTQ rights, as well as opposition to same-sex marriage in different parts of the world. Like other attendees, Crouse was unhappy that the symposium's original room reservation had been cancelled. At the 7:30 mark, she blamed the cancellation on "radicals" who did not like their presence in the Senate building.
"You know as well as I do that in spite of all of these efforts, things like having your months-long planning just go out the window because some group of radicals say how dare you have a group like us being in the Senate building, and we get shifted and have to work around the clock last night to find another place to hold the meeting."Crouse lamented the global progress of LGBTQ rights at the 7:54 mark, adding that public opinion is moving toward acceptance of LGBTQ equality.
"So when it comes to pro-family policies, not just here in the United States but in Europe and around the world, you know better than I do that things don't look so good. Ten European nations have legalized so-called gay marriage. Close to half a dozen nations are considering civil unions, and others are considering registered partnerships and legalizing cohabitation policies in some kind of formal way. There's no question that public opinion in all nations is shifting more toward ... LGBT rights than they have in previous times, so we are looking at a steep uphill climb and fierce opposition."She approvingly reminded listeners that several nations have resisted LGBTQ rights, specifically on the issue of same-sex marriage. At the 8:53 mark, she had this to say.
"Ten nations have voted to outlaw gay marriage. Ten nations have outlawed gay marriage specifically. And throughout the world, there are grassroots movements, incredibly dedicated individuals, and small groups of very thoughtful, committed citizens who are, with the help of God, changing the world."
Crouse praised anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ activists worldwide, including Ignacio Arsuaga (head of the Spanish anti-abortion group Hazte Oir) and Theresa Okafor (director of the Foundation for African Cultural Heritage; more on the organization here). She talked at length about anti-abortion and anti-same-sex marriage activism in Europe, specifically in France and Spain. She argued that anti-abortion and anti-gay marches in Europe sprang from "the firm believe that every child, in order to fully thrive, should have a mother and father who are committed and married to each other and committed to that child's well-being."
Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, shared a statement from groups defending Russia's anti-gay law. The Statement by Worldwide Organizations in Support of the Russian Federal Law On Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development defends Russia's anti-gay law by arguing that it "protects the innocence of children". At the 3:51 mark, he insisted that the statement represents "grassroots" sentiments rather than Putin's biases.
"This statement was signed by a hundred pro-life, pro-family, and human rights groups around the world on all continents. There is widespread support for the current Russian law in Russia, widespread support. This did not spring from the fevered imagination of Putin. This actually came from the grassroots."Ruse cited a column he wrote for the Daily Caller earlier in 2013 entitled "Putin is not the gay bogeyman", in which he watched a foppishly dressed "post-op transexual, obviously a man" walk down the street unharassed during his time in Russia. The implication, it seemed, was that claims of homophobia and transphobia in Russia are exaggerated (despite ample evidence to the contrary). In the column, Ruse claimed that "false, overhearted and even panicked rhetoric" has been flying around regarding the treatment of LGBTQ persons in Russia, impeding dialogue.
Meetings such as this indicate that the Religious Right is very much aware of anti-LGBTQ activism worldwide, and is promoting a narrative of such developments that downplay their inherent unfairness and dangers. Just as the American Religious Right watches anti-LGBTQ developments closely, so too should those of us who support LGBTQ rights.