At the CNN LGBT town hall on Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden advocated for a kind of terror watchlist to monitor organizations that oppose same-sex marriage and transgender identity, similar to a previous Obama administration effort targeting conservatives groups. This monitoring echoed the Southern Poverty Law Center’s accusations that mainstream conservative Christian organizations are “anti-LGBT hate groups” on par with the Ku Klux Klan.
When asked about how he would fight hate crimes against LGBT people, Biden advocated for three things: passing the Equality Act, monitoring groups that are similar to terrorist groups, and reinterpreting federal civil rights law to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — an issue currently before the Supreme Court.
Biden’s second proposal should terrify conservatives and conservative Christians in particular. He essentially advocated adopting the “hate group” monitoring of the SPLC.
“What we had before to deal with hate crimes was we had a position in our administration, within both the Department of Justice as well as within Homeland Security, a provision to keep watch on these groups that we know are out there — like terrorist groups, they’re similar — that we know are out there, to be able to follow — without violating their First Amendment rights — to be able to follow what they’re doing and follow up on threats that come forward,” Biden said.
While it remains unclear specifically to what Biden was referring, it seems likely this effort has something to do with a DHS report about “Rightwing Extremism,” which presented a broad swath of conservative groups as “hate-oriented.”
When mentioned in the context of LGBT issues, Biden’s call for monitoring groups “similar to terrorist groups” echoes the talking points of the SPLC, which has demonized conservative Christian organizations like Alliance Defending Freedom (a law firm that has won many Supreme Court cases), D. James Kennedy Ministries (cut off from Amazon’s charity program thanks to the SPLC), and the Family Research Council (which faced an active shooter thanks to the SPLC’s accusations). Conservatives targeted by the SPLC have lost access to their credit cards. Their organizations have been banned by sites like GoFundMe and Eventbrite, and even booted from Mar-a-Lago.
Make no mistake: Biden was advocating a kind of terrorist watch list that would likely target conservative Christian groups opposed to LGBT activism in the name of fighting anti-LGBT hate crimes, much like the SPLC.
In March, the SPLC cleared out its senior leadership amid a sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal. In the wake of that scandal, a former staffer described the organization as a “con” and said the “hate group” accusation is a fundraising scheme. SPLC spokesmen have admitted that the group intends to destroy organizations it smears as “hate groups.” Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim anti-extremism activist, won a $3.375 million settlement in a defamation case against the SPLC. The organization faces many other lawsuits.
Biden’s support for the Equality Act, which would significantly curtail the religious freedom of conservative Christians and others who wish to opt out of endorsing same-sex marriage and transgender identity, should already worry Americans. This SPLC-style strategy to monitor groups that are “similar to terrorist groups” is even worse.
Judy Shepard, the mother of Matthew Shepard, asked Joe Biden what he would do to reduce hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.
— CNN (@CNN) October 11, 2019
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.