Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism. According to its mission statement, the organization "monitors anti-LGBT organizations, documents their lies and exposes their leaders as charlatans. TWO specializes in turning information into action by organizing, advocating and fighting for LGBT equality. TWO’s goal is to create a world where LGBT individuals can live openly, honestly and true to themselves."
The public spokesman for TWO is Wayne Beson, the Founding Executive Director of Truth Wins Out and author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth." Besen has appeared on leading news and political talk shows including: the NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, ABC’s Nightline, ABC’s Good Morning America, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC News with Thomas Roberts, CNN’s Talk Back Live, CNN’s The Point, CNN’s AC360, Fox’s O’Reilly Factor, FOX’s The Sean Hannity Show, and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
In the wake of a domestic terrorist event at the Family Research Council's headquarters in Washington D.C. last week where an unarmed guard was shot in the arm, religious right groups have blamed the Southern Poverty Law Center and now, Besen, for inciting violence toward conservative Christian groups who oppose marriage equality and "the homosexual lifestyle." The Family Research Council along with a number of other anti-gay religious right groups is categorized as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, not because of biblical beliefs, but because of spreading anti-gay propaganda that is not based on truth.
The Christian right activists' press release about Besen reads in its entirety:
In light of last week's attempted murder of employees at the Family Research Council (FRC), we pro-family organizations ask Fox News to discontinue guest appearances by homosexual agitator Wayne Besen on the popular O'Reilly Factor TV show. Besen has a long history of slandering conservative groups and the ex-gay community in language that foments hatred and undermines civil discourse.
Last week Fox News reported that Tony Perkins, FRC's president, blamed the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and its rhetoric of hateful lies against FRC for helping to create a climate that led to shooter Floyd Corkins' actions.
The SPLC and Wayne Besen are united in demonizing conservative organizations and individuals. Despite repeated complaints about Besen's appearances, producers of the O'Reilly Factor continue to feature Besen, a radical homosexual activist aligned with the SPLC, as a guest commentator.
Last year the controversial Besen and his SPLC ally jointly staged a protest outside of FRC's Values Voters conference, falsely accusing FRC and the American Family Association of hatred and lies. Besen publicly labeled FRC's conservative speakers as "certifiable lunatics with dangerous agendas." Both Besen and the SPLC took out an ad in the Washington Post falsely blaming FRC for gays being more likely "to be victimized by violent hate crimes" and "driven to suicide by relentless bullying."
Besen and the SPLC also target the ex-gay community, claiming that former homosexuals are a "myth" and that ex-gays are not entitled to the same rights and respect that gays currently enjoy. In a bizarre move, Besen and SPLC are now filing complaints against therapists who counsel homosexuals with unwanted same-sex attractions, thereby denying gays the right of therapeutic self-determination.
Condemnation of the SPLC's -- and by extension Wayne Besen's -- designation of pro-family groups as "hate groups" comes from both the political Right and Left. Rich Lowry of National Review wrote, "The SPLC's promiscuous labeling of organizations it disagrees with as 'hate groups' came to the fore last week when someone tried to shoot up one of its targets."
And liberal journalist Dana Milbank echoed Lowry's criticism: "[T]he Southern Poverty Law Center should stop listing a mainstream Christian advocacy group alongside neo-Nazis and Klansmen."
It is time that the O'Reilly Factor cease using Besen as a guest commentator. Providing Besen with a forum lends credibility to his pernicious tactics and enables Besen to exploit his appearances for fundraising purposes.
When Fox News provides a forum to a radical homosexual activist known for employing inflammatory and hateful language in the service of promoting lies, the network becomes complicit in the damage done to the victims of Wayne Besen's and the SPLC's smear campaigns.
We ask the News Corporation, Fox News, and Bill O'Reilly to find more ethical spokespersons for the liberal view of sexuality. In their infamous Washington Post ad accusing FRC of hateful values, Besen and the SPLC claim that "words have consequences." Yes, they do. And Besen's may lead to violence.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman, Liberty Counsel
Sally Kern, Oklahoma State Representative
Diane Gramley, President, American Family Association of Pennsylvania
David Smith, Executive Director of the Illinois Family Institute
Laurie Higgins, Cultural Analyst for the Illinois Family Institute
Matt Barber, Vice President, Liberty Counsel Action
Denise Shick, Founder and Director, Help 4 Families
Regina Griggs, Executive Director, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX)
Arthur Goldberg, J.D., Co-Director, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH)
Greg Quinlan, President, Pro-Family Network of Ohio
John Kirkwood, Pastor, Grace Gospel Fellowship
Brian Camenker, Executive Director, MassResistance
Peter LaBarbera, President, AFTAH
Scott Lively, J.D., President, Defend the Family International
Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, PhD, The Pray In Jesus Name Project
Linda Harvey, President, Mission America
Of the signatories, Scott Lively, for instance, authored a book called The Pink Swastika which claimed that the Nazis were gays. Other known falsehoods and the groups that spread them are listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in a Winter 2010 report.
As the People For the American Way pointed out in its Right Wing Watch blog today:
Earlier this year, GLAAD, with the assistance of Jeremy Hooper, unveiled their Commentator Accountability Project which was aimed at putting "critical information about frequent anti-gay interviewees into the hands of newsrooms, editors, hosts and reporters" so that audiences could be accurately informed about their true views whenever these anti-gay activists were featured in the media.
When the list of commentators was release [sic-released], those who founds themselves on it were quick to scream "McCarthysim," as if merely chronicling their publicly stated anti-gay statements for all to see was some form of blacklist.
In fact, that is exactly what Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber said:
“McCarthyism is alive and well within the ranks of the homo-fascist political lobby. Since liberals can’t win the debate, all they have left is to silence dissent,” said Barber, AFTAH board member and Vice President of Liberty Counsel Action. “As we’ve seen evidenced by the recent [Sandra] Fluke flap involving Rush Limbaugh, left-wing extremists have ramped-up their Orwellian efforts to silence those who pose a threat to their radical secular-socialist agenda.
“I count it an honor to be included among such a distinguished list of pro-family warriors,” Barber said. “As Christ followers, we will never stop speaking God’s truth in love. These homosexualist hatemongers have exposed who they truly are. They will never silence us.”
Said AFTAH’s LaBarbera: “This is all about silencing, discrediting and demonizing pro-family voices. I guess GLAAD is so afraid that the truth about homosexuality will be heard that it will go to the extreme of creating a ‘blacklist’ against moral leaders — for a media already disinclined to be fair on this politically correct issue.”
So it is no small irony that both Barber and LaBarbera have signed on to an open letter to Fox News calling for Truth Wins Out's Wayne Besen to be banned from appearing on the station.
"Because I have consistently challenged their propaganda campaigns, exposed their lies, publicly taken them to task, helped undermine the so-called 'ex-gay' myth that they promote, and even destroyed some of their careers. If anything, the level of vitriol they displayed in their letter highlights the effectiveness of Truth Wins Out and our ability to strategically frustrate the goals of our adversaries," Besen explained in an email alert sent today. "Clearly, the over-the-top rhetoric coming from the individuals who signed this letter speaks for itself and they do not practice what they preach. They will do and say virtually anything to slime opponents who expose their misinformation and misdeeds. They have portrayed me as demon possessed and even as Adolph Hitler. And they will try to silence and censor anyone who does not espouse their views."
Besen has published a response to the press release, pointing out among other things:
- He has had a long and cordial interview history with FOX News' Bill O'Reilly, even though the two often disagree.
- TWO had immediately condemned the actions of a shooter at the Family Research Council saying "In America we settle political differences through robust debate in the public square, not with violence. If the shooting is found to be politically motivated, it is a detestable act of cruelty and cowardice and the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. We stand squarely with the Family Research Council today and offer them our full support and prayers."
- Besen has been compared with satan and "Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX), who spearheaded the press release and letter to FOX News [...] former webmaster used his computer to manipulate my facial features so they would appear demonic. A former PFOX board member photoshopped a Hitler mustache onto my face, even though I am Jewish.
- Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern had said that homosexuals were more of a threat to the United States than terrorism.
- Scott Lively, author of The Pink Swastika, is currently facing a lawsuit over allegedly inciting persecution of gays and lesbians in Uganda.
- [Read on for more.]
Pink Swastika image credit: Truth Wins Out (from its responsive press release).