Two of 27 are based in Massachusetts; MassEquality has joined FBI advisory committee to help find solutions to hate bias
BOSTON, Mass.—A new report that The Southern Poverty Law Center released last week documents a sharp increase in the existence of organized hate groups in 2011, including those motivated by anti-LGBT bias. “The Year in Hate and Extremism: 2011” notes that the number of anti-LGBT hate groups in the United States rose to 27 in 2011 from 17 in 2010.
“The LGBT community made significant advances in 2011, with the repeal of the “Don’t Act, Don’t Tell” policy on gay men and lesbians in the military, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage by Americans and the legalization of such bonds in New York state,” the report states. “But it was precisely these advances that seemed to set off a furious rage on the religious right, with renewed efforts to ban or repeal marriage equality and what seemed to be an intensification of anti-gay propaganda in certain quarters.”
The report lists 10 hate groups based in Massachusetts, two of which specifically target LGBT people: the Waltham-based MassResistance and the Springfield-based Abiding Truth Ministries.
“It’s easy to think of Massachusetts as a national leader when it comes to LGBT rights. Yet our state is the only one in New England with active, anti-LGBT hate groups in operation,” said Kara Suffredini, Executive Director of MassEquality. “The mission of these groups is at odds with the values of fairness, dignity, and opportunity for all that our state exemplifies.”
The Springfield-based Abiding Truth Ministry is run by anti-LGBT activist Scott Lively, who is the author of a book claiming that the Nazi Party was run by homosexuals, and an online screed titled “Why and How to Defeat the ‘Gay’ Movement.” In 2009 Lively traveled to Uganda with two other evangelical Christians to talk about the threats posed by LGBT people to civilized society. The talk spurred the formation of an “Anti-Homosexuality” bill by the Ugandan parliament listing out severe punishments for homosexuality including, in some instances, the death penalty.
The Waltham-based MassResistance has long targeted the LGBT community in Massachusetts. It is run by anti-LGBT activist Brian Camenker, who claims that advocacy efforts to end anti-LGBT bullying in schools are politically motivated attempts to bring a “dreary, Orwellian climate” to schools by “homosexual activist groups.”
MassEquality is a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Division Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee. The group is made up of representatives from Arab, Muslim, Jewish, Somali, Latino, Sikh, African American, and Latino groups, among many others. It meets quarterly to discuss hate and bias crimes and offer potential solutions.
“As this report shows, progress can spur backlash. This has been an exciting time for LGBT people. The president signed the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and, in 2011 alone, three states enacted marriage equality laws,” said Suffredini. “We will continue our advocacy work in partnership with the public, with politicians, and, now, with the FBI, to expand equality and minimize the harm that can come from anti-LGBT bias.”
MassEquality works to ensure that every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Massachusetts is protected from cradle to grave—with equal rights and opportunities in school, in marriage and family life, at work and in retirement.