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2014 Phobie Awards: The Worst People of the Year

2014 Phobie Awards: The Worst People of the Year


The Advocate has as a long tradition of pausing at the end of each year to reflect on who among our coverage wins for the most homophobic, transphobic, and downright reprehensible.




Ted Cruz is this year's worst person. With a single idea, he's managed to top all other homophobes.

The U.S. senator from Texas was so bothered by the spread of legalized same-sex marriage that in February he introduced a bill, called the State Marriage Defense Act, essentially unmarrying any couple who set foot in a state without marriage equality.

Now if a same-sex couple gets married in New York, for example, and then moves or visits Cruz's home state of Texas, the federal government continues to recognize their marriage as legal. But Cruz says those couples should only be considered married when within the borders of a state that recognizes marriage equality.

As you might expect, the Tea Party favorite has blamed federal marriage recognition on President Obama and "an out-of-control administration" that is "trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states." The Justice Department said the actual impetus for such recognition was the Supreme Court's ruling in U.S. v. Windsor.

Unmarrying couples is outside the mainstream even within his party (and his bill has gone nowhere), but Cruz has so many politically-explosive views that his vehemently antigay ideas get overlooked by mainstream media.

Cruz took his idea even further in October, after the Supreme Court refused to overturn lower court rulings favoring marriage equality, and he promised to introduce an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would bar courts or the federal government from ever overturning a marriage law made at the state level.

The bottom line is that when it comes to equal rights for same-sex couples, Cruz envisions a future United States in which some are free states and others are straight states.

On the following pages, see the rest of 2014's Phobie Award winners.



PHOBIE AWARD: Yahya Jammeh

The state of homophobia in Africa is critical, and it's because of leaders like Gambian president Yahya Jammeh, who in a nationally televised speech pledged extermination of LGBT people.

"We will fight these vermins called homosexuals or gays the same way we are fighting malaria-causing mosquitoes, if not more aggressively," he said in February to mark the country's independence day.

Being LGBT was already illegal in The Gambia and punishable by up to 14 years in prison, until this year when Jammeh increased the punishment to a life sentence. Jammeh regularly makes threats far beyond jail time. In the past, he's told LGBT people they ought to leave the country or face beheading. Then this year, when a report found that LGBT Gambians are seeking asylum in the United Kingdom, Jammeh seemed mostly outraged they were escaping. "If I catch them I will kill them," said Jammeh, in May.

With language like that, it's not too hard to see why LGBT Gambians might be running for their lives.

PHOBIE AWARD: Pat Robertson

One man never fails to make this annual list of the worst homophobes -- televangelist and failed presidential candidate Pat Robertson.

This year, he's rolled out quite a few doozies during broadcasts of his show, The 700 Club. Back in March, Robertson said the answer to "What Would Jesus Do?" about same-sex weddings is moot.

"I think you got to remember from the Bible, if you look carefully at the Bible, what would have happened in Jesus' time if two men decided they wanted to cohabit together, they would have been stoned to death," said Robertson on the show. "So Jesus would not have baked them a wedding cake nor would he have made them a bed to sleep in because they wouldn't have been there."

Then in August he theorized that single moms make their sons gay. "His attraction is now toward other men because he's raised by a woman," Robertson told a woman who wrote in for advice about her son.

Robertson always has some wacky theory about how HIV is transmitted, and this year he theorized that a person could get it from a towel. "You might get AIDS in Kenya," he warned a missionary. "The people have AIDS. You gotta be careful. I mean, the towels could have AIDS. There are things -- there are diseases in Africa."

But perhaps Robertson really thinks his viewers have nothing to worry about, since in December he told them that "those who are homosexual will die out because they don't reproduce."

Do we even need to say it? All of these things are totally wrong.


PHOBIE AWARD: Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

A petition to convince TLC that it should cancel 19 Kids and Counting, the reality show starring Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, now has more than 185,000 signatures. The Duggars say that's just evidence they're gaining fans and lament that "of course not everybody is tolerant toward us as we are to them." Their definition of tolerance apparently includes recording a robocall to fight passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance in Fayetteville, Ark. The ordinance went onto pass through the city council in a 6-2 vote, but protections for sexual orientation and gender identity were short lived. The Duggars amped up their quest and voters repealed the ordinance in a special election held later in the year.



PHOBIE AWARD: Louie Gohmert

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas unleashed two of the year's most homophobic comments. First, he said judges who rule in favor of marriage equality need "plumbing lessons." Then he said gay men shouldn't be allowed in the military because all the massages they give would make the troops weak -- or something. Really, it's hard to explain these theories because they make no sense. Luckily, that's where Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert come in. Stewart gave his own plumbing lesson (watch that here) and Colbert added historical context to the massages thing. Colbert nailed it, though, when praising Gohmert in the way only he can: "This man is brave enough to say the things that no one has the slightest desire to say."


PHOBIE AWARD: Martin Feldman

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman has the distinction of becoming the first federal judge to uphold a state's ban on same-sex marriage since June 2013, when the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act. And Feldman did it with panache. His ruling made a lot of the usual comparisons of same-sex unions to incest and rape. He even renamed marriage equality as "lifestyle choices recognition." Feldman is quite aware of his break from the pack and even threw in a few jabs at other judges: "It would no doubt be celebrated to be in the company of the near-unanimity of the many other federal courts that have spoken to this pressing issue," he wrote, "if this Court were confident in the belief that those cases provide a correct guide." Luckily for LGBT people, the last word on this ultimately belongs to another judge.


PHOBIE AWARDS: Phil Robertson

Shortly after our last Phobies list ran in December 2013, Phil Robertson's infamous GQ interview was published. In it, the Duck Dynasty star compared homosexuality to bestiality, prostitution, adultery, alcoholism, and terrorism -- all while sounding racist. Then Robertson propelled himself into the public discourse as a symbol, not of homophobia and racism, but of religious liberty. In an Easter sermon, he insisted that everything he said is in the Bible. We're guessing he forgot this part: "It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical." Through all this, Robertson has managed to keep his reality show on A&E, and he got an invite to speak at the 2014 Republican Leadership Conference.



PHOBIE AWARD: Tony Perkins

Every year comes with more reasons that Tony Perkins and his group, the inexplicably named "Family Research Council," should continue being listed as an antigay "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. It makes the list for spreading misinformation routinely about LGBT people. This year, Perkins warned that LGBT rights groups are launching a holocaust against Christians. "I'm beginning to think, are reeducation camps next?" he suggested on his radio program. "When are they going to start rolling out the boxcars to start hauling off Christians?" He was a speaker during a special event this year, called I Stand Sunday, geared toward casting Christians as the real victims in the fight for LGBT equality. All of that culminated late this year as FRC tried to frame the nomination of a pro-LGBT head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a plot to "indoctrinate" Americans. It described an EEOC ruling against allowing discrimination of trans people in employment as a way "to force [companies] to employ staff members who claim to be 'transgender' and who are undergoing sex change procedures. This is ... intended to silence people of faith, intimidate employers who possess traditional values and indoctrinate working Americans." We're guessing the SPLC took note of that for its listings.



Florida's twice-divorced attorney general has made fighting same-sex marriage a personal crusade. We'll leave it to the Tampa Bay Times, though, to explain what makes Bondi so deserving of a Phobie. "Bondi's clumsy communication skills and relentless defense of Florida's gay marriage ban have made her a modern-day Anita Bryant," the Times' Adam Smith wrote this month while crowning her "Loser of 2014." "Antagonizing Florida's gay voters over same-sex marriage and Hispanic voters over immigration reform ensures Bondi has a bright political future ahead of her -- if she moves to Mississippi."


PHOBIE AWARD: Gordon Klingenschmitt

"As an elected official I will probably tone down the rhetoric," promised Gordon Klingenschmitt after winning election to the Colorado House of Representatives this year. So maybe this is the last we'll hear from the former military chaplain.

In the past, though, Klingenschmitt has said gay people need exorcisms to rid them of demons and turn them straight. In October, on his Pray in Jesus Name TV show, he said LGBT people don't want equality, "They want your soul. They want you to disobey God so that you go to hell with them. It's not enough that they go to hell for disobeying God, they want you to disobey God so that we all go to hell. That's the devil's goal in the end." And all those supposedly fair-minded judges who ruled in favor of marriage equality? They're just "demonic judges who are imposing the devil's law upon the people."

If we had a special Demon's Choice Award in the Phobies, Representative Klingenschmitt would be a lock.




Michigan politician Dave Agema holds the distinction of being one of the few Republicans whose antigay views were so offensive he was asked to resign from party leadership. Party chairman Reince Priebus called for Agema to quit the Republican National Committee after saying Russia's ban on so-called gay propaganda is just "common sense." He doubled down on that idea later this year saying, "We ought to have that law... it's a good law." Agema was already coming off a string of antigay statements, including a speech in which he said that HIV and AIDS has meant gay people "want free medical because they're dying [when they're] between 30 and 44 years old." By the way, Agema never resigned.


PHOBIE AWARD: Sam Brownback

As lawmakers in his state rally to pass what activists call a "license to discriminate" bill, Kansas governor Sam Brownback is going extra lengths to fight the spread of marriage equality. Even after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed marriages to begin in his state, Brownback's attorney general continued to fight, insisting the case in question only sets precedent in two counties, not the whole state. Brownback has repeatedly attacked judges who rule against him as "liberal," claiming he favors "judges who stay with the law, like I appoint."


PHOBIE AWARD: Linda Harvey

"If you were wondering what to get your teen or college student for Christmas, how about giving them the gift of common sense and morality?" suggested radio commentator Linda Harvey in time for the holidays. What did she have in mind? "This is the way many people have described my book Maybe He's Not Gay: Another View on Homosexuality."

Harvey is the founder and president of Mission: America. That book alone would get her on this list. But Harvey also has a theory that actress Laverne Cox, who is a trans woman, is directly working for the devil. "I think America is quickly moving into chaotic territory where we are blessing and approving behaviors that so completely defy reality and the will of God that the consequences will be devastating, especially to kids," Harvey said after the Orange Is The New Black star appeared on the cover of Time magazine. "If Satan were to devise a strategy to confuse and undermine the moral base of America, he could not have chosen a better vehicle than pushing gender confusion, which is just the latest offshoot of the homosexual movement." So to recap, Harvey is actually against confusion, got it?


PHOBIE AWARD: Minnesota Child Protection League

Despite two full-page ads that actually ran in a prominent Minnesota newspaper, the Minnesota State High School League passed a list of guidelines this year that say trans students shouldn't be discriminated against in sports or in using school facilities. The first ad warned, "A male wants to shower beside your 14-year-old daughter. Are YOU ok with that?" Another threatened that trans students would somehow lead to "THE END OF GIRLS SPORTS." We hope passage of the guidelines means this group disappears, but a note to newspaper executives: If something calling itself the "Minnesota Child Protection League" shows up wanting to buy a full-page ad, remember that the group won a Phobie for the ads it ran in 2014.

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Lucas Grindley

Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.
Lucas Grindley is VP and Editorial Director for Here Media, which is parent company to The Advocate. His Twitter account is filled with politics, Philip Glass appreciation, and adorable photos of his twin toddler daughters.