Activists have been trying to keep Tony Perkins and his virulently antigay views off the airwaves, but when the leader of the Family Research Council went on MSNBC today he was met with a tougher opponent than usual — Rep. Barney Frank.
Perkins made his usual rash of claims, including that kids are made gay because of immoral parenting, and that the purpose of marriage is to procreate. As a result, Perkins reluctantly admitted he doesn't believe same-sex couples should be allowed to adopt.
"The notion that Dick and Lynne Cheney parented in an inferior way to Mr. Perkins is just one more absurdity," Frank announced, noting that they have a daughter who is a lesbian. "No, I don't think the Cheneys' failures in some way to teach their daughter how to interact properly led to her being a lesbian. I know of no such evidence."
Perkins looked bemused at the mention of the Cheneys and denied he'd accused them of wrongdoing, which Frank, who is gay, quickly pointed out seemed like he was ignoring claims he'd just made — that it's the job of parents to "protect" their children from turning gay and from the "environmental factors" he claims exist that cause homosexuality.
Hardball host Chris Matthews heard a weakness in Perkins's argument and asked (but didn't get an answer): "Are you saying that if you were Barney's father he wouldn't be gay?"
Matthews followed up with: "What do you do to make sure that you would doubt that your kid would be gay? That is an enormous power you have."
For his part, Perkins attributed his power to biblical teaching.
When Perkins claimed the purpose of marriage is to have children, Matthews chafed even more. "A marriage is not just spawning," he said.
Matthews has been confronted several times recently at book signings by activists who want Perkins kept off air. He is often called upon as a guest to represent the views of evangelicals in politics, which they say adds credibility to his antigay views, which especially troubles them because the Family Research Council is listed as an antigay "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In the past, Matthews has said Perkins doesn't espouse hateful views while on Hardball, but that he would consider their complaints.
Watch the entire debate below.