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06/10/2013

John Helmberger shows why we can never believe 'protect marriage' campaign spin (#Animus)

by Jeremy Hooper

During last November's attempt to put a marriage discrimination amendment in the state constitution, we got a version of Minnesota Family Council CEO John Helmberger who was on his best behavior. In interviews or even on panels hosted by extreme groups like the Family Research Council, Helmberger kept his words on the focused side. He kept it all about "protecting marriage."

That's the way it always is during campaign season. The leaders of these groups realize that a ballot campaign puts a bright and even national spotlight on their work, so they go into political "do no harm" mode. All involved take their lead from groups like NOM and deny that any sort of personal animus is driving their efforts, much to the outrage of those of us who pay attention to this stuff year round and know the kind of stuff they say about us during less scrutinized moments.

But now that marriage equality has passed into Minnesota, Helmberger is no longer encumbered. He has no legitimate chance of rolling back the progress, so now he can go into full-on anti-gay mode. In fact, that's likely the only messaging that's going to earn him attention and donor dollars, since moderates know that the marriage fight is a done deal in the state.

Which brings us to this panel. Last weekend, John Helmberger joined a panel titled "Standing Firm in the Evil Day," with the evil being homosexuality. It's the kind of panel where one panelist, who heads up an :ex-gay" program, tells his audience that homosexuality "kills your joy" (at around 6:40). It's the kind of panel where panelists just throw out, as foregone conclusion, that gay people and our fingers are "evil." It's the kind of panel where a theology professor instructs (at around 20:00–24:00) his fellows to "go on offense" and fight the "beast." It's the kind of panel where Helmberger, no longer concerned with making his own feelings about gays perfectly known, can reduce gay people to having "same-sex attractions" (which is "ex-gay" code wording).

But more than anything, it's the kind of panel that shows us just how dishonest these groups are when they go into their pragmatic "protect marriage" campaign modes. This is how they talk about us before campaign season begins, and this is how they talk about us when campaign season ends. You never have to go far to find the animus that drives these efforts against us, you just have to cut through the carefully managed messaging to find it.

You can watch as much or as little as you want:

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