I’m willing to bet that not many of you have heard of the World Congress of Families (WCF). Or if you have heard of them, you think they’re just another fringe anti-gay hate group.
In reality, they’re very nearly the “uber-group” of anti-gay intolerance and anti-gay lobbying, spreading their hate and bigotry worldwide with a venom and efficiency rarely seen.
In this three part series (Part 1 is below), I’ll be looking into the following:
- In Part 1, we’ll explore the origins, goals, and methods of the World Congress of Families, an umbrella organization for just about every American group opposing gay rights, women’s rights, and in fact any liberal or progressive cause that offends the far right social radicals.
- Part 2 will be a revisit of the infamous Regnerus anti-gay “New Family Structures Study,” and how the same names behind the World Congress of Families, National Organization for Marriage, and other far right American anti-gay hate groups made it happen. Plus, we’ll learn more about how such an obviously flawed paper was ever published in the first place.
- Finally, in Part 3, we’ll see how leaders of the WCF and NOM’s Brian Brown took their package of pseudo-science and anti-gay homophobic fear-mongering overseas — to African nations, France, and Russia — to help enact the anti-gay laws they couldn’t pass here.
I apologize in advance if my own sleuthing coincidentally but inadvertently covers ground someone else already went over. In a place as big as the Internet, the same research is bound to have been done more than once, and I won’t necessarily have found it in just a few days work. Neither will I have found every last little detail — so do feel free to add to what you see in these posts. Everywhere possible, I included links to the sources used.
The World Congress of Families – Who are they?
Here’s National Organization for Marriage (sic) president, Brian Brown, bragging in a fundraising email to supporters about the work being done by the WCF:
“The World Congress of Families is THE group standing up for the family around the world. They have done amazing work in uniting all of those who stand for the truth about marriage and family. It has been an honor to partner with WCF and to be a part of their most recent Congress in Australia and regional conference in Trinidad and Tobago. I wholeheartedly endorse their work and urge you to financially support their efforts.”
History and background of the WCF
The World Congress of Families was founded in 1997 by Allan Carlson, former Reagan “National Commission on Children” appointee (serving until 1993), and a long-time religious right activist. He’s also president of the Howard Center for Family, Religion, and Society (anti-gay marriage, mainly, but also anti-feminist), and a former president of the Rockford Institute, a “paleoconservative” think-tank (their gig is immigrant bashing).
The WCF mission statement as an international lobbying organization is to be a coalition of social conservative groups — but in reality they are mainly an instrument of America’s far right Christian fundamentalists, misogynistic anti-feminists, and of course, vehemently anti-gay homophobes. (Some of these obviously overlap.)
During the Bush II presidency, the WCF had many friends and allies in the Administration. Since Obama took office, they’ve instead worked with religious and right-wing social advocacy groups to oppose gay rights in America and worldwide.
As I said, they don’t limit their agenda just to anti-gay lobbying. They’ve referred to undocumented immigrants as “parasites, criminals, potential terrorists and the arrogantly unassimilable.” And hinted broadly that President Obama would soon instigate a literal Holocaust against conservatives, shipping them off in “cattle cars” to FEMA-run concentration camps. Obviously, they are also rabidly anti-abortion and anti-contraception. This last shouldn’t be too surprising, since Carlson’s final report in 1994 after serving on the National Commission on Children was a pro-Christian, anti-feminist Gish-Gallop titled, “Why Things Went Wrong: The Decline of the Natural Family.”
Apparently women in the workplace, equal pay for women, and family planning are responsible for destroying the 1950s Ozzie & Harriet nuclear family and causing the downfall of America itself. The report even frequently references “1950s families,” as if they represented a golden age ideal for American society.
But mainly they hate gay people. A lot. When the Supreme Court struck down the federal portion of the Defense of Marriage Act last June, the WCF issued a statement referring to marriage equality laws as “ersatz marriage.” WCF’s other spokesman, Don Feder, also said:
“(The Constitution) no more protects “sexual choices” (under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments) than it creates a sphere of privacy (under the First Amendment) which permits abortion-on-demand. A society incapable of differentiating between a family and a perversion is doomed to extinction.“
(Emphasis added.) Feder also referred to gays as a “breeding ground for sexually transmitted diseases” and equated homosexuality with pedophilia, incest, polygamy, S&M, and bestiality. Especially pedophilia, closing his remarks with a sickening “joke” about NAMBLA celebrating the end of DOMA with candy and trenchcoats.
Who is associated with the WCF?
The WCF derives most of its funding from its member organizations, which includes:
- Focus on the Family
- The Family Research Council
- The American Family Association
- Concerned Women for America
- Americans for Truth About Homosexuality
- Alliance Defense Fund
- Americans United For Life
- …and others.
Google them for yourself if you want links. It’s nearly a Who’s Who of Southern Poverty Law Center anti-gay, anti-woman hate group designees.
In addition, the WCF considers itself a ‘partner‘ with many other far-right anti-gay, anti-woman groups, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the National Right to Life organization. They’ll often coordinate action and lobbying, for instance.
When the WCF has its (now annual) globally-hosted conferences, its speakers come from many of these same groups. Those conferences, beginning in 1997, have been held in Prague, Geneva, Mexico City, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Madrid, and Sydney.
The WCF and its affiliate groups have been busy bees
If you think they’re not vicious homophobes, get a load of this: The president of Family Watch International (yet another WCF-affiliated group), Sharon Slater, while speaking before the Nigerian Bar Association Conference in 2011, referred to gay rights as “fictitious sexual rights.”
Her husband, FWI legal advisor Greg Slater, later expanded on these remarks in an email:
As the most populous and one of the wealthiest African counties, Nigeria can serve as a strong role model for other governments in the region to follow on how to hold on to their family values despite intense international pressure. In fact, several days after the conference, the head of the Anglican Church called upon the Nigerian government to withdraw from the United Nations because of its push to further the cause of homosexuality.
(Emphasis added.) Nigerian law currently outlaws being gay, with a conviction of “homosexual behavior” drawing up to 14 years in prison. In the northern parts of Nigeria, where Sharia law holds sway, gay people can be sentenced to be stoned to death. Hell of a ‘strong role model’ — unless, of course, the goal is to imprison and/or kill gay people.
Which I suspect it is.
This is what I mean about America’s far-right anti-gay radicals exporting homophobia, and a mere sampling of what they’ve been up to.
The WCF lobbies constantly against the decriminalization of homosexuality
In 2009, the WCF lobbied extensively against the United Nations resolution calling for homosexuality to be decriminalized worldwide.
Also in 2009, in the WCF newsletter, they issued a statement of support for Uganda’s infamous “kill the gays” laws — although they didn’t call it that.
Uganda is considering a comprehensive law which would make it a criminal offense to promote homosexuality, especially among youth. Uganda’s stand against homosexuality has been condemned by international groups seeking to advance the homosexual agenda.
Once it became public knowledge that the Ugandan bill included the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” the FWI distanced themselves from their volunteer coordinator in Africa, Pastor Martin Ssempa, who was widely credited with making the law as vicious as possible when it was drafted. They even claimed to oppose the Ugandan bill, even as they and the World Congress of Families were issuing press statements opposing international pressure to decriminalize homosexuality.
The WCF, on the other hand, is still entirely behind the notion of ensuring homosexuality is criminalized. I guess they apparently realize that outright genocide of LGBT people is a tad too far out there to talk about or propose.
On the other hand, I suspect they’re quite willing to take a page from the anti-abortion groups’ guidebook: Push the eliminationist rhetoric as far as you can go without coming right out and explicitly advocating violence. Then stand by, deflect blame, and generally avoid any responsibility when the more radical extremists go ahead and engage in violence and mayhem. After all, that’s exactly what we’ve been seeing happen in Russia.
The sudden surge of anti-gay violence and oppression worldwide is no coincidence
Russia’s anti-gay pogrom of 2013 didn’t come out of nowhere. Neither did the French anti-gay riots earlier this year. In fact, just about anywhere in the globe there’s either organized and systematic anti-gay violence happening, oppression of gays, or homophobic laws being passed, the WCF and its partners are almost always somewhere nearby.
By the way, impetus for these posts is because late last week, I came upon a four part article on RightWingWatch.org, “Globalizing Homophobia,” written by Miranda Blue. She provided the initial roadmap for my subsequent web-crawl research. For further info and another perspective, I can’t recommend it enough.
The only detail I disagree with is the possibly misleading title of her first part, “How the American Right Came to Embrace Russia’s Anti-Gay Crackdown.” In truth, I believe the motivation and apparent urgency of Russia’s anti-gay crackdown came from the American right. Just as they’re doing in other countries all over the globe.
Coming up next–
In part 2, we’ll revisit the infamously homophobic and flawed Regnerus “New Family Structures Study.” We’ll examine where it came from, who helped make it happen, and why.
And we’ll also dig deeper into the compromised research journal publishing industry that loaned false scientific credibility to the study and to the opinion-masquerading-as-science work of LSU associate professor, Loren Marks.