MSNBC contributor and Washington Post writer Jonathan Capehart took on Franklin Graham, the virulently homophobic son of evangelist Billy Graham, for his expressed support of Russian president Vladimir Putin's antigay policies.
In a segment on Melissa Harris-Perry that aired over the weekend, Capehart seized on the funeral of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, who enlisted his family and followers to promote anti-LGBT views in highly visible protests where they carried signs bearing slogans including "God Hates Fags." Capehart argued that Franklin Graham's support of Putin's regressive stance on gay issues aligns Graham with extremists such as Phelps and the "fringe" views promulgated by their followers.
In an open letter, which Capehart read on the MSNBC program, he cited Graham's March column in Decision magazine, which stated that Putin was "right" on LGBT issues relating to children. "Obviously, he may be wrong about many things," Graham wrote, "but he has taken a stand to protect his nation's children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda."
The Decision piece further stated that President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder "have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration's lead."
Capehart called Graham on the carpet for these sentiments, saying, "Mr. Graham, you are the son of Billy Graham — America's preacher! Spiritual adviswr to every U.S. president since World War II. Your father, when he was running the show, was careful to strike an inclusive — even nonpartisan — note."
Capehart continued, "And even though [your father] opposes same-sex marriage, he has never called for oppression of — or violence against — gays and lesbians."
Defining the "gay and lesbian agenda" as having the "economic security for our families that comes with being married," the right to raise children "without the fear that they could be taken away by an intolerant government," and the ability to "walk down the street without being humiliated, beaten bloody, or killed," Capehart concluded that Graham's support of Putin's policies is "breathtakingly offensive."
Read the full letter and watch video here.