Tony Perkins is the president of the Washington D.C.-based Family Research Council (FRC), a Christian lobbying group that describes a LGBTQ lifestyle as “unhealthy” and “destructive” to “individuals, families, and societies.” The FRC, perhaps the most powerful right-wing Christian presence in Washington, has strong connections to its grassroots base, and is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Perkins is one of the most influential Christian Right voices in Washington. His good looks and skillful delivery of carefully constructed messages and arguments render him a popular figure on the Christian Right, and a dangerous megaphone for scapegoating a variety of marginalized groups, including: LGBTQ people, immigrants, single parents, and youth.
In his mission to “reclaim the culture of Christ” Perkins feels free to demonize LGBTQ people, identifying homosexuality as a source of mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, child molestation, and immoral behavior in general. He maintains the belief that homosexuality is a sin and that it can and should be cured through the love of Jesus Christ. He continually cites pseudo-scientific evidence from groups like the American College of Pediatrics (a discredited organization) to bolster his arguments.
In a 2010 response to several cases of anti-gay bullying that led gay teens to commit suicide or experience depression, Perkins said it was not “inacceptance” that led young gay and lesbian children to suffer, but that depression and suicide were the mental consequences of being gay. “We know from the social science that [homosexuals] have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict,” he said.
Perkins was one of many right wing evangelicals to denounce the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The Huffington Post quoted him saying, “Today is a tragic day for our armed forces. The American military…has now been hijacked and turned into a tool for imposing on the country a radical social agenda. This may advance the cause of reshaping social attitudes regarding human sexuality, but it will only do harm to the military’s ability to fulfill its mission.”
Perkins argues that religion, particularly Christianity, is under attack by secular institutions. He simultaneously believes those who practice the religion of Islam are a danger to America. He has called the LGBTQ rights movement an act of cultural and corporate terrorism. Because he appears less strident than the older anti-gay spokespeople, like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Louis Sheldon, he is able to deliver their same messages to their audiences without sounding shrilly alarmist.
In September, 2013, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) appointed Perkins to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement. The appointment is the first official capacity Perkins has served for Louisiana since resigning as a state representative in 2004.
This profile is part of a series on key anti-LGBTQ opponents adapted from Political Research Associates’ Resisting the Rainbow report.