Frist leads gathering to win antigay support for GOP
April 26 2005 12:00 AM ET
Stonewall Democrats on Monday criticized Senate Republican
leader Bill Frist of Tennessee for leading a political event
Sunday in Louisville, Ky., where participants routinely
ridiculed gay families while calling for legalized
discrimination against them.
Frist joined, via video, a live simulcast broadcast
by the Family Research Council titled "Justice Sunday:
Stopping the Filibuster Against People of Faith." The event
was designed to build support for Republican efforts to
change Senate rules in order to approve the most radically
far-right judicial nominations of the Bush administration.
"Senator Frist just led an event that focused more
energy defending Tom DeLay from his ethical problems than it
spent on issues of faith," said Eric Stern, NSD executive
director. "Republicans are ready to change Senate rules to
confirm the most radical of President Bush's judicial
nominees, and they are willing to exchange personal faith
for partisan pandering in an effort to do just that. It is
telling that Senator Frist regularly appears at Family
Research Council functions but refuses to meet with gay
families regarding his extreme Senate agenda."
Shortly after Frist addressed the simulcast, Catholic
League president Bill Donohue took the stage and preceded to
laughingly mock gay families. Specifically, Donohue claimed
that support of marriage equality "is a notion that belongs
in an asylum." The comment drew wide laughter and applause
from the audience at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville,
where the simulcast originated.
During the simulcast, organizers devoted much of
their time urging the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown to
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
circuit. Although her nomination was rejected by the Senate
in 2003, President Bush renominated her earlier this year.
Rogers Brown holds a ideological judicial record that
has consistently attacked the stability of gay families. In
2003, Rogers Brown was the only justice on the California
supreme court to rule against recognizing the right of gay
Californians to legally adopt their children. Brown argued
that allowing a gay parent to legally adopt the biological
child of their partner "trivializes family bonds."
"What we detect instead is the work of a political
organization using Christian language to exploit Americans'
desire to preserve religious values by framing their
political strategy in terms of religious liberty," said the
Reverend Joe Phelps of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville.
During the simulcast Phelps led an opposition rally
of churches from across the city. Their efforts were joined
by representatives of the Jefferson County Democratic Party
and through a letter signed by more than 400 religious
leaders across the country.