Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Politics & Policy

Governor Jindal quietly appoints head of national anti-gay group to state's Law Enforcement Commission 
Tony Perkins appearing on CNN
By Brody Levesque | BATON ROUGE -- Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal,(R) has appointed Anthony R. "Tony" Perkins this week to a voting position on the state's Law Enforcement Commission, which oversees awarding grants, training of police officers, and regulates law enforcement activity across the state.
Perkins is the head of the Washington D.C. based anti-LGBT Family Research Council (FRC), a group that has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as a "hate group" for its deceptive propaganda aimed at LGBT Americans.
A spokesperson for Governor Jindal confirmed Perkins' appointment Wednesday in a phone call and added there had been a confirmation vote by the state's senate on Perkins' appointment as well. The spokesperson declined to explain the lack of a press release or other publicity regarding Perkins' appointment.
Perkins, who maintains a part time residence in Baton Rouge, had previously served two terms as a Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives and has been a police officer and television reporter.
The full 50 member commission is comprised of persons appointed by the Governor including ex officio members, who meet four times a year quarterly to vote on grant proposals, grants, and policy or training issues.
Daily operations are maintained by a professional full-time staff according to its Deputy Director, Robert Mehrtens. During an interview Wednesday with LGBTQ Nation, Mehrtens noted that the full commission also oversees the Louisiana Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (POST), which is responsible for developing and evaluating curriculum of for mandatory basic training courses and firearms training standards for police officers, deputy sheriffs, state police, wildlife agents and all other persons commissioned as peace officers, as defined by state law.
Since becoming FRC president in September 2003 Perkins has been a vocal opponent of LGBT equality. In 2010 he helped lead the fight that opposed the overturning of the "Don't ask, don't tell" law that prohibited people who were openly gay or lesbian from serving in the U.S. military. Perkins has criticized same-sex marriage labeling them "counterfeit" and vigorously criticised the U S Supreme Court ruling in June, 2013 that overturned the 1996 Defence of Marriage Act.
He continues to urge Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would define marriage in the United States as the union between one man and one woman.
The Family Research Council—under Perkins' leadership—was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center which characterized the group as "a fount of anti-gay propaganda". According to the SPLC, one of the principal reasons the organisation had labeled FRC a hate group, was that Perkins and other FRC officials continue to conflate sexual orientation or gender identity with paedophilia.
Perkins has publicly stated;
"Homosexual men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are heterosexual men” adding that “Homosexual activists—those intolerant, hateful,vile,and spiteful predators—aren't just content to engage in paedophilia: They’re also part of a concerted effort to recruit children into the homosexual lifestyle.”
Louisiana, which still has a sodomy statue- recently came under national scrutiny after the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s office used the unenforceable law to arrest gay men agreeing to have consensual sex with undercover agents. The local District Attorney later threw the arrests out.
"The problem is that Governor Jindal is appointing a person who still believes in sodomy," said Adrienne Critcher, the Political Director for Shreveport based PACE, a bipartisan LGBTQ equality organization. 
"This almost sounds like an owed political favour," she added noting the Governor's current unpopular standing with the public. 
"I also question that outside of a minor public notice in the Advocate, [ Baton Rouge's daily newspaper.] the Governor's office has tried to fly this under the radar?"
Matthew Patterson, the Political co-coordinator for Equality Louisiana, who has been working with local law enforcement on training with emphasis towards sensitivity for LGBTQ issues was more succinct in his appraisal telling LGBTQ Nation Wednesday evening;
"Tony Perkins' appointment to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement is a great concern for us. Equality Louisiana is working with the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's office to ensure that personnel receive appropriate training regarding their interactions with the LGBT community and their responsibility not to enforce unconstitutional laws that unjustly target gay men. 
Tony Perkins is one of the country's loudest and most hateful anti-LGBT ideologues, so his presence on a commission that oversees training standards for Louisiana's peace officers seriously undermines the credibility and quality of any training they might receive. 
He has no business on this commission."
A phone call and an email to Tony Perkins at FRC for comment went unanswered.