HRC Misdirects Its Blame

By Eric Seymour

Tuesday morning, October 13 began like every other Tuesday morning for me. Still attempting to shake off the remnants of the previous night's sleep in preparation for my 8 AM class, I turned on my TV to catch a few bits of news before trudging onto campus.

What I saw next jolted me wide awake. Elizabeth Birch, Executive Director of the pro-homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign, was on NBC's Today show, blaming the death of gay University of Wisconsin student Matthew Shepard in part on a series of advertisements which offer hope for change to homosexuals.

The advertisements, part of the "Truth in Love" outreach sponsored by conservative Christian groups such as the Family Research Council feature the testimonies of former homosexuals who have left that lifestyle, often with the help of organizations such as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Exodus International. The ads offer help to those who wish to find this same help, and end with a phone number and the message "It's not about hate. It's about hope."

During her appearance, Birch directly blamed this ad campaign for inspiring the vicious murder of Shepard. Her reasoning? The advertisements send the message that homosexuals are wrong or "need help," thus Shepard's murderers deemed him less than human. If anything, however, the ads emphasize the very humanity of homosexuals by emphasizing that, while their lifestyle is wrong, they are people like anyone else with caring families, and there is hope for changing their very human mistakes.

Birch and the HRC are also taking political advantage of this tragedy, and suggesting that the sponsors of the "Truth in Love" campaign should be subject to investigation under existing and proposed hate crimes legislation. Thus, while they fight to present pro-homosexual propaganda to impressionable children in public schools, they also are trying to silence those who are offering a seldom-heard viewpoint of hope for change chiefly to adults. This further calls into question whether the HRC is seeking to protect homosexuals from violence or to silence conservative Christians in the public sphere.

The greatest irony in this controversy is that in a press release dated just before Shepard's murder made national news, Birch claimed the ads were "scapegoating gay and lesbian Americans." The ads never even come close to blaming anyone for anything. It is the HRC that is now trying to blame those very ads for Shepard's death. And this scapegoating serves neither the protection of homosexuals nor the preservation of freedom of speech and religion in America.

To view one of the ads of the "Truth in Love" outreach, click here for AVI format and here for MOV format. (Note: these files are on a server not administered by Hoosier Review. We cannot guarantee their availability in the future.)

Eric Seymour

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