May 06, 2011 4:26 pm ET - by Media Matters Action Network
The National Rifle Association (NRA) dropped the law firm King & Spalding shortly after the firm announced their decision to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on behalf of the U.S. House of Representatives. King & Spalding had previously represented the NRA on important cases, including the Supreme Court decision McDonald v. Chicago.
King & Spalding announced late last month that they would not defend DOMA after pressure from groups suggesting the firm's work on DOMA would be in violation of their own non-discrimination policies.
Conservatives were quick to punish King & Spalding, with Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli promptly terminating his office's relationship with the firm.
What does DOMA or any LGBT issue have to do with guns? Nothing, but given that the NRA's board is packed with conservatives with long histories of being stridently anti-gay, this shouldn't come as a surprise.
Here are some lowlights from NRA board members on LGBT equality:
NRA board member Ted Nugent recently took to the Washington Times to complain about the NBA fining star player Kobe Bryant for using an anti-gay slur. From Nugent's column:
If the NBA had any true gay convictions, the NBA should host a Homosexual Night. During halftime, the homosexuals could come down on the court, hold hands and prance around the court to music by the Village People. The NBA could then give each homosexual a pink basketball as a symbol of solidarity [....]
Homosexuals are a protected class in America. If you think what happened to Mr. Bryant was a travesty, just wait until you see what homosexuals in the military do when they claim they have been mistreated because of their sexual orientation.
NRA board member Oliver North suggested that repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) would lead to members of NAMBLA, a group of pedophiles, being accepted into the military. North's comments, as documented by Think Progress:
Stunning assault on the all-volunteer military, the very best in the world. Barack Obama now intents to treat them like lab rats in a radical social experiment, and it can be very, very detrimental. ... In other words, this isn't about rights. This isn't about fairness. It's all about national security. And apparently, Mr. Obama has forgotten it. ... Now, here's what's next. NAMBLA [North American Man/Boy Love Association] members, same-sex marriages. Are chaplains in the U.S. military going to be required to perform those kinds of rituals? Do they get government housing?
NRA board member Cleta Mitchell pressured the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) to kick out the gay conservative group GOProud. According to other board members, she was "stridently opposed to allowing the gay group to participate," and "led the charge to kick them out of the event."
NRA board member Wayne Anthony Ross referred to gays as "degenerates" in a letter to the Alaska Bar Association. Ross also stated that a bill that sought to protect the civil rights of gays and lesbians would actually "give extra rights to a group whose lifestyle was a crime only a few years ago, and whose beliefs are certainly immoral in the eyes of anyone with some semblance of intelligence and moral character."
In 2002, a panel at the NRA's annual convention reportedly featured a series of anti-gay comments. NRA board member Susan Howard moderated and was joined by fellow board member Grover Norquist. According to an account by PlanetOut featured in Pink Pistols' newsletter:
American Spectator columnist Grover Norquist said liberals "don't want [men] to date girls" and gun owners don't get as much media coverage because "we don't have annual parades so that everyone can appreciate that gun ownership is an alternative lifestyle," the Web site reported.
NRA board member Matt Blunt lists among his accomplishments as Missouri governor:
Upholding Traditional Marriage. The Governor stood with the overwhelming majority of Missouri voters in his support for protecting traditional marriage from activist liberal judges. In August 2004, Blunt support[ed] Missouri's constitutional definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
NRA board member Larry Craig co-sponsored the Marriage Protection Amendment, which would have amended the Constitution to prohibit gay marriage. (Craig's political career ended after he was arrested for lewd conduct in a men's bathroom.)
NRA board member Dan Boren co-sponsored legislation to prevent the District of Columbia from performing same-sex marriages.
NRA incoming President David Keene actively opposed repealing DADT. Keene, who was the chairman of the group that puts on CPAC, broke with fellow NRA board member Cleta Mitchell over allowing GOProud to attend CPAC, but the group was not allowed to speak at the event. Keene also opposes gay marriage and declared the issue "not open to debate."
Former NRA President Charlton Heston gave a controversial speech to the Free Congress Foundation that was perceived as offensive by civil rights leaders of many backgrounds. Joan M. Garry, then executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said of the speech:
We find portions of Mr. Heston's very carefully-worded remarks to be both offensive and misleading. Mr. Heston's sentiments concerning lesbians and gay men no matter how carefully veiled are nonetheless transparent. Such disparaging remarks serve as fuel for those who fear difference and promote intolerance.
This post has been updated to remove references to former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr, who authored DOMA in 1996 but has since softened his positions on LGBT issues.
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