In part two of its series of articles demonstrating how American religious right groups are embracing Russia’s homophobic crackdown on its lgbt citizens, People for the American Way’s Right-Wing Watch has just released some interesting information. The National Organization for Marriage is playing a role in this homophobic crackdown. NOM’s president, Brian Brown, visited Russia and spoke against gay adoption:
On June 13, 2013, just days after the Russian Duma passed laws banning on gay “propaganda” and actions that “offend religious feelings,” a delegation of five French Catholic anti-gay activists –at least one with ties to the far-right Front National party — traveled to Moscow at the invitation of the Duma committee on family, women and children to discuss, among other issues, Russia’s plans to tighten its ban on adoption by same-sex couples abroad.
Joining them was one of the most well-known figures in the American anti-gay movement, National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown . Brown had worked closely with the French anti-gay movement in its protests of the country’s marriage equality law, traveling to Paris to demonstrate against the law and signing onto an email to members of the Collectif Famille Mariage, one of the most prominent groups working to oppose marriage equality in France. (Excerpt, via Google Translate: “You are the people who invented the Gothic art and launched skyward these wonderful cathedrals which the whole civilized world was inspired…The new cathedral that you are to build our eyes is composed of living stones: you, dear French Resistance, youth and adults, men and women, boys and girls!” )
. . . According to Russian news reports, the French activists and Brown attended two events in Moscow. One was a joint meeting on changes in international adoption laws with the Duma’s committee on foreign affairs and its committee on family, women and children – whose chair, Yelena Mizulina, authored the ban on gay “propaganda” and the adoption bill.
The other event was a roundtable discussion on “Traditional Values: The Future of the European Peoples,” hosted by the St. Basil the Great Foundation – a Catholic group run by Konstantin Malofeev, the head of a private equity group and spirited anti-gay activist – and also sponsored by the Duma’s family committee, the right-wing Center for Social-Conservative Policy, and a new multi-party group of Russian MPs formed, with approval of the Russian Orthodox Church, to “protect traditional Christian values” and fight “aggressive liberalism” in reaction to Pussy Riot’s protests. Among the measures pushed by the group was the new law imposing jail time for “insulting religious feelings.”
The National Organization for Marriage did not publicly announce Brown’s participation in this international meeting of anti-gay minds. However, his presence was mentioned by Revel in a blog post about the visit, in which he noted that Brown gave a “remarkable speech in the Duma.” The NOM leader also spoke to Russia 1’s Vesti news program:
According to a re-translation of the Russian translation of the interview with Brown, he told the reporters that restricting Russian adoptions to gay and lesbian couples was a way of halting a slippery slope of “very negative developments all over the world”:
Right now you’re having the fight about adoption, but the adoption issue is indivisible from the marriage issue. If you don’t defend your values now, I’m afraid we’re going to see very negative developments all over the world.
Right-Wing Watch obtained a copy of Brown’s speech:
In his speech to the committee (again, translated to Russian and back again to English), Brown warned of the dangers of allowing gay people to adopt children, saying “Every child should have the right to have normal parents: a father and a mother,” and sharing some of NOM’s favorite stories of the supposed religious persecution following marriage equality in the U.S.:
But we are now convinced, having heard the presentations of our French brothers and sisters, that we are talking about very serious problems indeed. We are talking about violations of rights, we are talking about the rights and problems of children in their education. We should not shy away from this and should not forget about it and create an illusion for ourselves. A reconsideration of the definition and understanding of marriage is in fact a real threat to rights. Very soon after a law was passed that legalized same-sex marriage in the state of Massachusetts, we saw that religious organizations were closing down, religious organizations that dealt with adoptions and that did not support adoption by same-sex families. They were closing one after another. We have actually seen that in some schools, they are talking to children about homosexuality, but in fact they don’t have the right to learn about a lot of things like that until a certain age. . . . I think that this visit, the invitation to visit Russia, will enable the development of this movement around the world. We will band together, we will defend our children and their normal civil rights. Every child should have the right to have normal parents: a father and a mother.
It’s worth noting that in addition to cracking down on international adoption by gay couples, Russia is also considering a law which would remove children from their homes if their parents are gay or lesbian. There are rumblings that the Regnerus study which is connected to NOM has been cited by folks pushing this law.
But this new development alone regarding Brown’s speech puts another crack in NOM’s argument that the organization is “simply trying to preserve traditional marriage.” With its participation in Russia’s persecution of its lgbt citizens, NOM has officially entered the international arena of anti-gay persecution and none of the shucking and jiving or semantical word play the organizations uses can erase this fact.
NOM needs to be called out on this.