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NEWS ANALYSIS with VIDEOS: In culture war against LGBT rights, words hurt

Words hurt.

Words carry enormous meaning and impact.

In the culture war over LGBT rights, words matter. So do deeds and actions.

Make no bones about it, but the culture war is far from won by the LGBT community despite significant gains on the legal front or in the hearts and minds of a majority of Americans.

A vast, loosely connected coalition of fundamentalists, Evangelicals, Mormons, Catholics and other like-minded religious groups have joined far-right fringe groups to fight against gay rights. And they don’t fight fair.

They use words as propaganda in the culture war. They use words to demonize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. They use words to incite hatred and discrimination against a minority group of people. And these words hurt. For young people questioning their sexuality or trying to summon up the courage to come out, these words can be deadly.

Earlier this week in San Diego, Seth Walsh’s mother came to Eden to “Remember and Honor” her son, who was relentlessly bullied in school for being gay. Seth died one year ago after attempting to hang himself from a tree in his backyard.

Yes, words hurt. Words kill.

The list of kids bullied to death grows each day. Some names, like Tyler Clementi and Asher Brown and Billy Lucas, are familiar. Many others never made the news. The blood of these beautiful children is on the hands of this shady coalition that practices hate, not love, allegedly in the name of religion.

The rage against the FAIR Education Act

California is one of the few states in the union that is attempting to grant full equality to LGBT people. The Democrats control the Assembly and the Senate as well as all executive state offices. The far-right conservatives – and surveys show that not all Republicans are against gay rights – are on the warpath against the FAIR Education Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law after it was approved by the California legislature.

The FAIR act simply requires public schools in California to integrate into textbooks facts and history about people with disabilities, people of color and people who are LGBT.

“The California Department of Education has made the truth clear: the FAIR Education Act requires schools to integrate factual, age-appropriate information about the history, current events and social movements of LGBT people, people with disabilities and people of color into existing social studies lessons. Everything else is hysterical and unnecessary noise,” said Roland Palencia, executive director of Equality California.

Yet, known hate groups have launched a campaign to call a referendum to overturn the FAIR act. They are using the same tactics -- fear and loathing and lies -- in an attempt to get more than 500,000 valid signatures to qualify the petition for a June 2012 ballot initiative. They have until mid-October to gather enough signatures, and one informed source said they had already collected more than 400,000 signatures that will need to be validated.

The anti-equality advocates, including the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) and the Family Research Council (FRC), a designated anti-gay hate group, are circulating Stop SB 48 petitions for a referendum that asks voters to overturn the FAIR Education Act.

The Capitol Resource Institute, one of those shadowy groups that raised lots of money for the Yes on 8 campaign that successfully overturned marriage equality in California, is the primary group behind the Stop SB 48 petitions. Day after day, the group emails supporters touting its success in rounding up enough signatures to qualify for a vote.

Like in the Prop 8 campaign, CRI is spreading lies and distortions to scare people into signing the petitions. In one email, CRI warned its followers: “Transgender Lesson Plans Coming to a School Near You!” Another email was titled: “Lesbian, Transgender Lesson Plans Coming to a School Near You!” Yet another one screamed: “Help Stop the Homosexual Agenda!”

The lies and inaccurate information promoted Rick Jacobs, founder of the Courage Campaign, to fire off an angry letter to Paulo Sibaja of the Stop SB 48 campaign. Here is part of what he wrote:

“In no way, shape or form does this law have anything to do with sex education, and it certainly does not teach homosexuality to kindergartners. That’s just overblown, anti-gay rhetoric. Teachings are age-appropriate and factual. It's ridiculous to interpret this as five-year-olds being taught sex ed or about the Stonewall Riots, which sparked the gay rights movement. Lessons will be developed at the local level so teachers and parents can decide what’s appropriate for each classroom.”

The Stop SB 48 campaign over the weekend got caught up in another scandal. Max Disposti of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center posted on YouTube a video (watch it below) showing a petition-gatherer in Oceanside, Calif., using the tragic rape and murder of North County teenager Chelsea King to falsely tie the Stop SB 48 campaign to stopping child molesters and murderers.

Repealing the FAIR act will do nothing to stop child molesters and murderers … but repealing the law will prevent textbooks from including information about groups like CRI who use religion and faith – and lies – to demonize LGBT Californians and encourage bias and discrimination against them.

Disposti and volunteers with Equality California have put together an online petition called "Protect the FAIR Education Act." To sign the petition, to volunteer or the contribute to the cause, click HERE.

Lies. Mistruths. Propaganda.

CRI is not the only group to master these techniques.

Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council (FRC), which has ties to the Ku Klux Klan, have joined CRI's cause to fight against the FAIR act.

Perkins, who can often be found on Fox News and even mainstream cable channels like CNN, is a master at twisting facts and calling the blue sky black. His latest claim? Christians are being persecuted by the homosexuals! They are being denied their rights to be haters! OMG!

The FRC issued a video message to the Stop SB 48 campaign that targets fundamentalist and Evangelicals. There's not an ounce of truth in the video message, which contends that the textbooks under the new law will brainwash children into embracing the homosexual agenda. In the video message, Perkins claims that SB 48 "undermines the traditional family."

The video message drew the ire of Equality California and other progressive groups, including the Gay-Straight Alliance. Listen to what Roland Palencia of EQCA had to say about it:

“Organizations with links to white supremacist organizations and other hate groups long ago lost the right to speak with any legitimacy about protecting families and children.

"California voters have a right to know the truth about those most backing the effort to overturn the FAIR Education Act and that racist and homophobic organizations have no intent to protect families and children but instead hurt them with their bigotry.

"Let's be clear: it's the anti-gay, racist rhetoric, dogma and attacks of these organizations that harm children, families and our society, not movements for equality, truth, inclusivity and dignity for all people."

Many fair-minded Californians — especially parents — may not yet know how they feel about the FAIR Education Act. But I don't believe any fair-minded parent would find friends of the KKK a trustworthy protector of their children. It's critical that these groups are exposed for what they really are: fear-mongers who prey on good parents' deep, instinctive desire to protect their children in order to advance a hateful, anti-equality agenda.”

The Pope and the Roman Catholic Church continue to deny equality to LGBT people. Toss in the Mormons and the Muslims, the fundamentalists and the Evangelicals, and many other faiths. Obscure passages of Scripture or the Koran are used to justify their homophobia.

One of the scariest homophobes in the world is Scott Lively, head of the Abiding Truth Ministries, which was declared a hate group by the well-respected Southern Poverty Law Center.

Lively has been very effective in spreading the gospel of homophobia to Africa and other parts of the world. He demonizes gay men by continually spreading the lie that the Nazis were dominated by homosexuals, via his discredited book, “The Pink Swatiska,” and through his appearances in right-wing media.

The Henny Penny of the right-wing fringe, Lively recently went on a rage against homosexuals:

“Many Christians are only now awakening to the seriousness of the threat to our society posed by the homosexual movement. But, unfortunately for us all, it is only the sounding of the victory trumpets by ‘gay’ activists that has stirred Christians from their slumber.

“The watchman’s walls have been broken and breached, the village is in flames, and triumphal ‘gay’ culture warriors are leading a long string of young prisoners by their necks into the woods. Most disturbingly, many of the captives, including some of the children of these still sleepy-eyed Christian parents, seem happy to go.”

Lively taps into the homophobic myth that gays “recruit” children and indoctrinate them into homosexuality, thus perpetuating another lie that homosexuals are molesters; never mind that all credible scientific research shows that an overwhelming majority of molesters are heterosexuals.

This world-class hater is one of the villains behind the homophobia that is running rampant in places like Uganda and Malawi, where failed governments and desperate leaders are using anti-gay rhetoric to stir up the masses so they can cling to power.

Lively advocates making homosexuality a crime, not just in Africa or Russia, but here in the United States. To date, homosexuality is already a crime in 76 countries around the world, mostly in Muslim-dominated nations. But Lively is not alone in this mission; add in haters like Matt Barber and Peter LaBarbara and you get an idea that what happens in Africa doesn’t stay in Africa. It's happening right here in California.