Family Research Council
Logo of the Family Research Council
|Motto||Advancing Faith, Family and Freedom|
|Registration no.||52-1792772 (EIN)|
Tony Perkins, President|
Thomas R. Anderson, Chairman
|$13,064,417 (2011 FY)|
|2011 FY Tax Return|
The Family Research Council (FRC) is an American conservative Christian group and lobbying organization formed in the United States in 1981 by James Dobson. It was incorporated in 1983. In the late 1980s, the FRC officially became a division of Dobson's main organization, Focus on the Family, but after an administrative separation, the FRC became an independent entity in 1992. Tony Perkins is its current president.
The FRC promotes traditional family values, by advocating and lobbying for socially conservative policies. It opposes and lobbies against LGBT rights (such as same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions, and LGBT adoption), abortion, divorce, embryonic stem-cell research and pornography. The FRC is affiliated with a 501(c)(4) lobbying PAC known as FRC Action. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) classified the FRC as an anti-gay hate group, which generated some controversy.
The Council was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1983. James Dobson, Armand Nicholi, Jr., and George Rekers were some of its founding board members. In 1988, following financial difficulties, the FRC was incorporated into Focus on the Family, and Gary Bauer joined the organization as president. The FRC remained under the Focus on the Family umbrella until 1992, when it separated out of concern for Focus' tax-exempt status. Tony Perkins joined the FRC as its president in 2003. On June 18, 2013, Josh Duggar was named executive director of FRC Action, the non-profit and tax-exempt legislative action arm of Family Research Council. Duggar stepped down in 2015.
Controversies and criticism
2010 listing as a hate group by SPLC
The Southern Poverty Law Center designated the FRC as a hate group in the Winter 2010 issue of its magazine, Intelligence Report. Aside from statements made earlier in the year by Sprigg and Perkins (see Statements on homosexuality), the SPLC described the FRC as a "font of anti-gay propaganda throughout its history". As evidence, the SPLC cited a 1999 publication by the FRC, Homosexual Activists Work to Normalize Sex With Boys, which stated: "one of the primary goals of the homosexual rights movement is to abolish all age of consent laws and to eventually recognize pedophiles as the 'prophets' of a new sexual order." The report said FRC senior research fellows Tim Dailey and Peter Sprigg (2001) had "pushed false accusations linking gay men to pedophilia".
FRC President Tony Perkins called the "hate" designation a political attack on the FRC by a "liberal organization". On December 15, 2010, the FRC ran an open letter advertisement in two Washington, D.C., newspapers disputing the SPLC's action; in a press release, the FRC called the allegation "intolerance pure and simple" and said it was dedicated to upholding "Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman". A section of the letter supporting the FRC and certain other organizations designated as hate groups by the SPLC had signers which included twenty members of the House of Representatives (including then soon-to-be Speaker John Boehner), three U.S. Senators, four state Governors, and one state Attorney General. In response, Mark Potok (SPLC spokesman) emphasized the factual evidence upon which the SPLC had taken the step of making the designation.
A shooting incident outside the FRC headquarters in 2012 (see below) prompted further comments on the SPLC's 'hate group' listing. Dana Milbank, columnist for the Washington Post, referred to the incident as "a madman's act" for which the SPLC should not be blamed, but called its classication of the FRC as a hate group "reckless" and said that "it's absurd to put the group, as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church." Tufts University political science professor Jeffrey Berry described himself as "not comfortable" with the designation: "There's probably some things that have been said by one or two individuals that qualify as hate speech. But overall, it's not seen as a hate group."
2012 shooting incident
On August 15, 2012, a gunman attempting to enter FRC's Washington, D.C. headquarters shot an employee, 46-year-old Leonardo Johnson, in the left arm. While injured, Johnson assisted others who wrestled the gunman to the ground until police arrived and placed the gunman under arrest. Johnson was taken to a hospital to treat his wound.
The gunman was interviewed by the FBI. Law enforcement officials said that the suspect, 28-year-old Floyd Corkins II, a resident of nearby Herndon, Virginia, had served as a volunteer at a LGBT community center. The FBI and the Metropolitan Police Department investigated jointly "to determine motive/intent and whether a hate crime/terrorism nexus exists." During his FBI interview Corkins was asked how he chose his target. His response was "Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups. I found them online". Corkins appeared in court the following day and was charged with assault with intent to kill while armed and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. An affidavit filed in the case stated that Corkins had told the guard "words to the effect of 'I don't like your politics.'"
On August 22, 2012, Corkins was indicted on three charges: two charges in the District of Columbia, possession of a handgun during a violent crime and assault with intent to kill, and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, a federal charge. In January 2013, Corkins pleaded guilty to all charges. Corkins was sentenced to 25 years in prison on September 19, 2013.
On the day of the shooting, a joint statement was issued by 25 LGBT groups condemning Corkins' actions. The National Organization for Marriage, an active campaigner against same-sex marriage, issued a statement saying "Today's attack is the clearest sign we've seen that labeling pro-marriage groups as 'hateful' must end".
FRC president Tony Perkins issued a public statement calling the shooting "an act of domestic terrorism" and criticizing the Southern Poverty Law Center for being "reckless in labeling organizations as hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy." SPLC spokesman Mark Potok called Perkins' accusation "outrageous", and in a statement said: "The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence." The SPLC responded by saying the group was listed as a hate group because "it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda" about lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
On June 18, 2013, it was announced that Josh Duggar of the television show 19 Kids and Counting would serve as the executive director of FRC Action, the non-profit and tax-exempt legislative action arm of Family Research Council.
Duggar resigned on May 21, 2015, when it became public and he confirmed that he had molested five underage girls, including some of his sisters, twelve years earlier, when he was between 14 and 15 years old. Duggar said he "acted inexcusably" and was "deeply sorry" for what he called "my wrongdoing". In reference to Duggar's resignation, FRC president Tony Perkins said: "Josh believes that the situation will make it difficult for him to be effective in his current work." Three months later, Duggar's name appeared in the Ashley Madison data breach, prompting Duggar to confess he was addicted to pornography and that he had been unfaithful to his wife. Perkins responded: "We are grieved by Josh's conduct and the devastating impact of his pornography addiction and marital unfaithfulness", adding "those of us who advocate for family values in the public square are held to a higher standard, and Josh’s failures serve as a painful reminder of the destructive effects of not living with integrity."
Politics, policies and positions
The Family Research Council opposes efforts to make the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine mandatory for school attendance. HPV is a virus that can be transmitted by sexual contact, that can cause cervical cancer. The FRC defends its position on the basis of the rights of parents and because of its support for abstinence prior to marriage.
It supports a federal conscience clause, allowing medical workers to refuse to provide certain treatments to their patients, such as abortion, blood transfusion or birth control. It also advocates for abstinence-only sex education, intelligent design and prayer in public schools, and the regulation of pornography and other "obscene, indecent, or profane programming" on broadcast and cable television. It opposed, but failed to defeat, the introduction of a .xxx domain name, and it lobbied for an increase in indecency fines from the Federal Communications Commission.
The FRC also holds that hotel pornography may be prosecutable under federal and state obscenity laws. It opposes the expansion of civil rights laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity as illegal bases for discrimination.
The Family Research Council is also fiscally conservative and wants to increase the child tax credit. The FRC supports the requirement of a one-year waiting period before a married couple with children can legally get a divorce so that they can receive marital counseling, unless the marriage involves domestic violence. The FRC also supports permanently eliminating the marriage penalty and estate taxes.
The Council opposes legalized abortion, stem-cell research which involves the destruction of human embryos and funding thereof (instead advocating research using adult stem cells), legal recognition of same-sex domestic partnerships in the form of marriage or civil unions, and all forms of gambling. The Council has questioned whether humans are mainly or completely responsible for climate change, and has opposed other evangelicals who have affirmed their belief in global warming.
Statements on homosexuality
According to the Family Research Council, "homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed" and it is "by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects." The Council also asserts that "there is no convincing evidence that a homosexual identity is ever something genetic or inborn".
An amicus brief was submitted by the Council jointly with Focus on the Family, in the U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, the case that overturned sodomy laws on privacy grounds. The summary of the amicus curiae brief declares that "States may discourage the 'evils' ... of sexual acts outside of marriage by means up to and including criminal prohibition" and that it is constitutionally permissible for Texas to "choose to protect marital intimacy by prohibiting same-sex 'deviate' acts". Similar positions have been advocated by representatives of the organisation since the Supreme Court case was decided in 2003.
In February 2010, the Family Research Council's Senior Researcher for Policy Studies, Peter Sprigg, stated on NBC's Hardball that gay behavior should be outlawed and that "criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior" should be enforced. In May that same year, Sprigg publicly suggested that repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy would encourage molestation of heterosexual service members. In November 2010, Perkins was asked about Sprigg's comments regarding the criminalization of same-sex behavior: he responded that criminalizing homosexuality is not a goal of the Family Research Council. Perkins repeated the FRC's association of homosexuals with pedophilia, stating: "If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a danger to children." The opinions expressed by Perkins are contradicted by mainstream social science research on same-sex parenting, and on the likelihood of child molestation by homosexuals and bisexuals, which has been found to be no higher than child molestation by heterosexuals. Some scientists whose work is cited by the American College of Pediatricians—a small conservative organization which was created following the American Academy of Pediatrics' endorsement of adoption by same-sex couples—have said the organization has distorted or misrepresented their work, or both. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) chose to designate the FRC as a hate group in the Winter 2010 issue of its Intelligence Report based in part on the opinions and statements made by Sprigg and Perkins.
Same-sex marriage cases
Family Research Council on January 28, 2013 issued an amicus brief in support of Proposition 8 case and DOMA case before the Supreme Court arguing for the court to uphold DOMA banning federal recognition of same-sex unions and Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in California.
Publishing and lobbying activities
In Funding the Culture Wars, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy lists the Family Research Council as one of the leading organizations funding the activities of the conservative movement. As a non-profit organization, FRC is completely dependent on donations from supporters. FRC publishes frequent e-mail updates, usually in the form of short articles, which can also be viewed on their website. These articles typically take the form of advocacy for a conservative Christian perspective on current political and social issues.
Family Research Council is a member of ProtectMarriage.com, a coalition formed to sponsor California Proposition 8 to restrict marriage to opposite-sex couples only, which passed in 2008 (but was struck down as unconstitutional by a federal court in California).
Justice Sunday was the name for three religious conferences organized by the FRC and Focus on the Family in 2005 and 2006. According to FRC, the purpose of the events was to "request an end to filibusters of judicial nominees that were based, at least in part, on the nominees' religious views or imputed inability to decide cases on the basis of the law regardless of their beliefs."
Values Voter Summit
Every fall, FRC Action (the political action group affiliated with FRC) holds an annual summit composed for conservative Christian activists and evangelical voters in Washington, D.C. The summit has been a place for social conservatives across the nation to hear Republican presidential hopefuls' platforms. Since 2007 a straw poll has been taken as a means of providing an early prediction of which candidate will win the endorsement of Christian conservatives.
In 2010, the FRC paid $25,000 to congressional lobbyists for what they described as "Res.1064 Ugandan Resolution Pro-homosexual promotion" in a lobbying disclosure report. The US House of Representatives resolution condemned the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a bill which, among other things, would have imposed either the death penalty or life imprisonment for sexual relations between persons of the same sex.
Following exposure of the lobbying contribution in June 2010, the FRC issued a statement denying that they were trying to kill the bill, but rather that they wanted to change the language of the bill "to remove sweeping and inaccurate assertions that homosexual conduct is internationally recognized as a fundamental human right." They further stated, "FRC does not support the Uganda bill, and does not support the death penalty for homosexuality — nor any other penalty which would have the effect of inhibiting compassionate pastoral, psychological, and medical care and treatment for those who experience same-sex attractions or who engage in homosexual conduct". The Ugandan Resolution was revived by Uganda's President Museveni in 2012.
FRC used one of Museveni's speeches in an e-mail to its supporters praising Uganda’s commitment to Christian faith and "national repentance" around the time that he reintroduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The speech did not refer to homosexuality specifically, but did mention "sexual immorality" among the sins for which Ugandans must repent.
- Christian Coalition
- Christian Voice
- LGBT rights opposition
- List of organizations designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-gay hate groups
- Moral Majority Coalition
- Values Voter Summit
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Corkins pleaded guilty to one federal count of crossing state lines with guns and ammunition. He also pleaded guilty to one count of intent to kill while armed and one count of committing an act of terrorism with the intent to kill.
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- "CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?
- PETER SPRIGG: Well, I think certainly-
- MATTHEWS: I’m just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior?
- SPRIGG: I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
- MATTHEWS: So we should outlaw gay behavior.
- SPRIGG: Yes."
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Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009" under consideration by the Parliament of Uganda, that would impose long term imprisonment and the death penalty for certain acts, threatens the protection of fundamental human rights, and for other purposes.
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- Family Research Council
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Profile at Ministry Watch