Posts Tagged ‘Southern Poverty Law Center’

Civil rights groups denounce NOM’s race-based strategy

Posted on: March 28th, 2012 by Andy Birkey 3 Comments

NOM President Brian Brown speaks at ‘One Woman, One Man’ tour in summer 2010, July 28, 2010 (Photo: Flickr/Fibonacci Blue)

Civil rights groups on Tuesday blasted a confidential memo by the National Organization for Marriage which outlined a strategy of pitting the gay community against the black and Latino communities in order to score points in the group’s efforts to ban marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“These documents expose NOM for what it really is — a hate group determined to use African American faith leaders as pawns to push their damaging agenda and as mouthpieces to amplify that hatred,” said Sharon Lettman-­‐Hicks. Hicks is the executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “With these memos made public, the black faith community must refuse to be exploited and refuse to deny their fellow brothers and sisters equal protection under the law.”

The memos outline a strategy of driving a wedge between the black community against the gay community. NOM proposed to recruit prominent black clergy and community leaders and then goad gay rights advocates into attacking those leaders.

The strategy, dubbed the “Not a Civil Right Project,” read:

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots. No politician wants to take up and push an issue that splits the base of the party. Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue. Consider pushing a marriage amendment in Washington D.C.; Find attractive young black Democrats to challenge white gay marriage advocates electorally.”

Another section of the document describes NOM’s strategy for the Latino community.

“The Latino vote in America is a key swing vote,” NOM wrote, “and will be so even more so in the future, both because of demographic growth and inherent uncertainty: Will the process of assimilation to the dominant Anglo culture lead Hispanics to abandon traditional family values? We must interrupt this process of assimilation by making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity — a symbol of resistance to inappropriate assimilation.”

Former NAACP chairman Julian Bond, in an interview with The Hill, said he had been suspicious of NOM’s strategy before the memo was released, especially in Maryland.

“It confirmed a suspicion that some evil hand was behind this,” he said referring to the defeat of a gay marriage proposal in Maryland in 2011. According to The Hill, Bond said the 2011 marriage bill failed largely due to opposition from black politicians.

“I would not be surprised to find this group and its filthy hand in crafting this situation,” Bond said.

Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council, issued a rebuke of NOM’s strategy.

“African American men and women of faith are not a political football to be tossed around in a cynical game of resentment and division. We, like all Americans, struggle thoughtfully with issues of faith, family and politics,” she said. “Anti-equality activists such as NOM consistently attempt to use a deeply cynical ‘wedge’ strategy to divide African Americans and the gay community, playing up what are now old and tired cliches. In the long run, this strategy will falter as African American and LGBT communities continue to work together for equal justice.”

She added, “NOM’s explicit attempt to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and African Americans is deeply offensive, and it exposes the depravity of their politics.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center also issued strong criticism against NOM’s strategy.

“[T]he revelation of its bald attempt to exploit black people and Latinos should help end the idea that NOM is an honorable group that would never engage in race-baiting,” said SPLC’s Mark Potok. “Because that is precisely what it has done.”

‘Attrition through enforcement’ immigration policy already a reality, advocates say

Posted on: February 7th, 2012 by The American Independent No Comments

Immigration advocates said Monday that an “attrition through enforcement” immigration strategy is nothing new, and already interferes with the daily lives of undocumented and their families, including U.S.-born children. (more…)

AFTAH uses Penn State rape scandal as opportunity for anti-gay speech

Posted on: November 11th, 2011 by Sofia Resnick 7 Comments

The child molestation scandal at Penn State University has raised questions about the problems of idolizing successful college athletic programs to the point where university students feel justified in a violent demonstration in defense of a coach fired for keeping quiet about the alleged crimes of his former assistant coach, charged with sexually abusing eight boys in 15 years. (more…)

Florida education system a leader in teaching civil rights movement

Posted on: October 7th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

“Teaching the Movement: The State of Civil Rights Education 2011,” a Southern Poverty Law Center study, shows that most states fail when it comes to teaching the U.S. Civil Rights movement to students. Florida earned an A for its curriculum.

The study (.pdf) “examined state standards and curriculum requirements related to the study of the modern civil rights movement for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

The study indicates that “only three states—Alabama, Florida, and New York—earned a grade of A,” that is “the state includes at least 60% of the recommended content.” Florida achieved a score of  64 percent.

A closer analysis points out that “Florida has a strong set of civil rights-related history standards that could be improved with a few modifications,” adding that the state “is setting high expectations and following through with end-of-course exams matched to those expectations. With a few changes, the state could have model standards for teaching the civil rights movement.”

“Teaching the Movement” states that “generally speaking, the farther away from the South—and the smaller the African-American population—the less attention paid to the civil rights movement. Sixteen states do not require any instruction whatsoever about the movement. In another 19, coverage is minimal.”

An overview of the study’s results show:

  • Sixteen states do not require any instruction at all about the movement. These states — along with 19 others whose coverage is minimal — received grades of F.
  • Three states — Arizona, Arkansas and Massachusetts — earned a D.
  • Six states — Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — earned a C.
  • Four states — Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and the District of Columbia — earned a B .

The study highlights that while 43 states have signed on to a Common Core State Standards for English and math, “such support and consensus is not likely to happen for history.” In 2010, the Florida Department of Education approved “the adoption of the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts and Mathematics.”

Common Core standards “clearly communicate what is expected of students at each grade level,” but as the Southern Poverty Law Center study points out, “the only way to measure the nature of our common expectations about student knowledge of the civil rights movement is to look at state standards and frameworks.”

According to the National Council for Social Studies, 18 states — Florida is not included — and 15 organizations have been meeting “to discuss working together on Common State Standards for Social Studies.”

Teaching the Movement adds that the “civil rights movement is one of the defining events in American history, providing a bracing example of Americans fighting for the ideals of justice and equality.”

Anti-LGBT group launches campaign to keep gay people from donating blood

Posted on: August 9th, 2011 by Sofia Resnick No Comments

UPDATE: Aug. 10, 2011, 3:15 p.m., with a correction

Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) last week launched a campaign to prevent gay men from donating blood. Keep the Gay Blood Ban (KGB²) was sparked, LaBarbera says, because of “renewed lobby efforts to open up the U.S. blood supply to homosexuality-practicing men.” (more…)

New Orleans schools: A nexus of poverty, high expulsion rates, hyper-security and novice teachers

Posted on: July 21st, 2011 by Mikhail Zinshteyn 1 Comment

Flickr/Carissa GoodNCrazy

John, an eighth grader at the time, gives another student on school grounds a candy bar. He is spotted by a security guard and told he now faces suspension. Frightened, John runs, getting caught twice and slapped with handcuffs as many times, acquiring bruises along his wrists in the process. A jacket his grandmother purchased is torn during the scuffle with the much larger security personnel.

“Knowing how my dad has been in and out of jail his whole life and always had handcuffs on… I promised myself it would never happen to me,” John says. “I’m a kid, and kids shouldn’t have handcuffs on them. It disgusts me putting kids in handcuffs and jail.”

Another student, identified as Chris, is handcuffed to a radiator in the central office of the school after completing an out-of-school suspension. He’s shackled for three hours, and not even the protestations of a teacher, and finally his mother, lead to the release of the boy.

“They just kept handcuffing me. Even other students got handcuffed,” shares Chris. “One kid was in special-ed and he would holler and cry when they handcuffed him.”

Last December, the Southern Poverty Law Center transcribed these stories of Chris and John, students attending New Orleans schools, along with half a dozen other first-person accounts of the increasing penalization on the playgrounds and hallways throughout the city.

Yet the brute force chronicled speaks to a much larger dissonance affecting New Orleans public education, supplying more ammunition to critics of New Orleans schools that bulk up on young, cheap and inexperienced teachers to educate a community particularly blighted by poverty.

Poverty and punishment explained

The intersection of punishment, student poverty and teacher experience begins, strangely enough, with a paper comparing transfer rates and international test scores in over five dozen countries.

In a study published (PDF) July 6, researchers for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) noted countries that hold students back an additional year or shuffle students out of schools for academic or behavioral problems are more likely to support education systems marked by inequity, low student performance and unnecessarily bloated budgets.

In gathering the data, the writers of the brief collected results from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 65 member and partner countries, representing a wide spectrum of GDP per capita, and principal surveys from participating schools.

The authors conclude that:

PISA 2009 reveals that countries in which more schools transfer students for the abovementioned reasons show poorer overall performance. In fact, over one-third of the variation in student performance across countries can be explained by the rate at which schools transfer students, regardless of the wealth of the country.

School systems that transfer students more frequently also tend to show a stronger relationship between students’ socio-economic background and performance, and a wider gap in performance between schools, even after accounting for countries’ national income. This suggests that transferring students tends to be associated with socio-economic segregation in school systems, where students from advantaged backgrounds end up in better-performing schools while students from disadvantaged backgrounds end up in poorer-performing schools. However, this does not necessarily mean that if countries abolish their transfer policies, their performance will automatically improve; PISA doesn’t measure cause and effect.

In New Orleans, dismissing students from schools for behavioral infractions or poor academic performance is a common occurrence, and one disproportionately affecting students of color or living in low-income households.

During a conversation with The American Independent, a doctor of education and radio host Raynard Sanders said, “In this city, we have a system where the kids are separated by race and class. Kids that … are expelled are placed into schools that are not close to home, with bad facilities.”

And while the state-managed Recovery School District (RSD) — part of a dramaticdeconstruction of the city’s school system following Hurricane Katrina that resulted in the majority of the schools being taken over by Baton Rouge and turned over to charter schools — is often skewered for a chronically underperforming student body, charter schools are guilty of their own quick-triggered dismissal of students.

The Big Easy is rather breezy with its expulsion rates: As previously reported by The American Independent, the rate of expulsion among RSD students in 2008 was ten times the national average. Suspensions were also extremely high, with 29 percent of RSD students losing at least one instructional day — over four times the national average. The punitive landscape is exacerbated further by the number of security personnel in RSD schools. The year before Katrina, the city-wide school district Orleans Parish School Board spent (according to according to a 2010 report from the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative) $46 per student on security. The first full year of RSD in 2006-2007 saw that number soar to $2,100. And though that figure went down in 2008-2009, it was still nearly $700 per student.

The reasons students are dismissed are often egregious and can have a deleterious effect on a child’s long-term academic prospects. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported on a U.S. Department of Justice study that found abusive punishment inflicted on a student by school authorities increases the child’s risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder five-fold. The SPLC document continued:

An over-reliance on these disciplinary methods can lead to the loss of valuable learning time, while contributing significantly to dropout rates. The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that Louisiana loses more than $6.9 billion annually in wages as a result of policies that push students out of school before graduation.

The degree to which race and class factor into disciplinary measures is also highlighted by SPLC:

• In RSD schools, 98% of students are African American and 79% of students are low income. RSD students are suspended at a rate that is more than three times the rate of suspension in neighboring, mostly white, affluent school districts.

• In St. Tammany Parish, where only 18.5% of students are African American and 42.5% are low-income, only 8% of students were suspended.

• In St. Charles Parish, where only 36.4% of students are African American and 45.1% are low-income, only 4.1% of students were suspended from school.

Charter schools expel, suspend and fine students for being late or snacking

Charter schools in the city, motivated by a desire to demonstrate high student-proficiency numbers according to state tests, use both selective admissions processes and implement codes of conduct that allow them to dismiss students not making the academic cut, says Lance Hill, a former professor of cultural studies who now heads the Southern Institute for Education and Research.

“Most of the charters enroll students by way of lottery to exclude high-needs, high-costs students,” he begins. “Yet a lot of the selectivity is after the admissions process — they use minor excuses for expulsion in case they enroll low-performing students.”

Research on Reforms (ROR), a collection of education scholars critical of the charter movement, and Learning Matters, an education reporting unit regularly featured on PBS, provided the legal justification and details of New Orleans charter school dismissal policies in a report on the ROR website. What follows is a sampling of their findings, along with original reporting by TAI.

At Lafayette Academy, “Removal of food from cafeteria” “Lying/falsehood,” “Sleeping in class” and “Leaving classroom without teacher’s permission,” along with 48 other infractions are described as risking “an orderly environment for learning” and can lead to suspension or expulsion, according to the school handbook.

Miller-McCoy Academy for Mathematics and Business also warnsstudents and parents cutting class, school, detention and related mandatory school events can lead to suspension or expulsion. Other offenses that warrant out-of-class dismissal include possession of electronics and printed text deemed vulgar or profane. The handbook also states items confiscated can be held by the school permanently, irrespective of costs and fees.

According to the 2010 handbook of the New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy, a child with 12 unexcused absences for the year can lead to the school reporting the parent to the Louisiana Department of Social Services. Hill says the school included the ‘can’ only recently, meaning prior to the switch, the school did report parents to child services.

KIPP Central City Primary appears to be the most draconian: The handbook explains five or more instances of the student being tardy or absent can result in a $250 fine, an official police report, a summons to perform 25 hours of community service by the parent, guardian or child or permanent removal from the school. If a child is missing from school for twenty consecutive days, even with parental notification, that child is automatically withdrawn from the school.

Charles Roemer, an RSD committee chair and member of the Louisiana Board of Early and Secondary Education, said in an early-June public meeting that, “The charter school determines what they can and cannot do autonomously. So that is their decision, their discipline policy, their expulsion policy, their attendance policies, which can be determined at a school by school basis for charter schools.”

In a follow-up question that asked if state law permits that type of autonomy, he said: “It is consistent with the Louisiana Charter School Law. That’s what it is consistent with. It is. Absolutely.”

If more experienced teachers keep students calm — do better test scores follow?

Given the increase in disciplinary punishment meted out in New Orleans schools, what changed after the storm? Some could point to poverty as an excuse for ramping up security in the playgrounds and hallways, but the leading indicator of low-income status in schools, qualifying for reduced lunch programs, hardly changed enough since the antediluvian period to warrant constant surveillance.

In 2004, before the state put the city’s school system through a tectonic shift and wound up with an archipelago comprising dozens of self-governing academies (and the abrupt dissolution of the collective bargaining agreement between teachers and the city,resulting in 8,500 layoffs), 77 percent of Orleans Parish students qualified for the lunch programs; 89 percent of New Orleans public school students are eligible today.

But while poverty increased, the experience level of teachers took a turn in the opposite direction, and with it, a talent for managing at-risk pupils.

“There is a saying in teaching if you cannot manage your classroom, there’s no way you can transfer your knowledge,” begins Davina Allen, a Teach For America alumna in New Orleans currently earning a post secondary degree in educational leadership. “If you’re struggling with behavioral issues, then there’s a very good chance you’re not teaching well.”

TAI spoke to Allen about the tandem force of keeping teachers in schools over a longer period of time and how a high turnover of labor in education hobbles the community.

“No one is saying all old teachers are better, but the new paradigm is that you don’t want veteran teachers around” is flawed, she said.

According to an internal document from the American Federation of Teachers obtained by TAI that uses 2008-2009 Times Picayune teacher experience data in New Orleans, experience matters. For RSD schools, which tend to perform poorly, 42 percent of teachers in K-8 classrooms have less than two years of experience. One in six eighth-grade students are proficient in math. At Orleans Parish, which was spared a handful of schools following the state takeover of schools in the city, thirteen percent of teachers had less than two years of experience and two out of three eighth-graders were proficient in math.

The class and race criticisms Dr. Sanders imputed for the region’s schools are likely fueled by these findings, also from AFT:

• A typical White high school student attends a school in which 17 percent of the teachers are in their first or second year, but a typical African-American high
school student attends a school in which 37 percent of teachers are in their first or second year.

• For a typical African-American student in a state-run RSD high school, the vast majority of teachers (64 percent) are in their first or second year.

• A typical White student in grades K-8 eligible for free lunch attends a school in which only 15 percent of teachers are in their first or second year, but a typical free lunch-eligible African-American student attends a school in which double that percentage of teachers (29 percent) are similarly inexperienced.

• An African-American student who is ineligible for free lunch is more likely to have a first- or second-year teacher (21 percent) than a White student who is
eligible for free lunch (12 percent).

Part of the blame for the disparity in performance falls squarely on the shoulders of the Recovery School District at large. As a report on education strategies in New Orleans and other large cities from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform states, “Many respondents [New Orleans educators, school officials] felt that, with the possible exception of some charter and [Orleans Parish School District] schools, teachers and leaders overall are not getting the level of support they need either from administrators or the system at large.”

But RSD appears satisfied with its human resources model. This year alone, 250 experienced teachers will lose their jobs, with a cadre of Teach for America fellows filing through in replacement to help educate the some 40,000 students in New Orleans. That decision continues a trend of favoring younger educators.

An education scholar who requested not to be named offered a moral vignette: “Knowing how to manage behaviors with kids who watched their parents drown in Katrina is not something a French Literature major from Long Island can learn overnight.”

Information on student test scores and teacher experience levels in other cities buoys the data mining at AFT. A 2009 study out of the University of Virginia observed that teacher effectiveness continues to slope upward at a steep incline into the 21st year of being on the job.  And while the instructor’s performance begins to sag in the subsequent decade of experience, the 30th year on the job posts higher levels of effectiveness than was achieved after ten years of teaching.

Is it fair to draw conclusions from low socio-economic status and high transfer rates among affected students? The writers of the OECD study do little to betray that notion, putting some of the onus on educators:

These results suggest that, in general, school systems that seek to cater to different students’ needs by having struggling students repeat grades or by transferring them to other schools do not succeed in producing superior overall results and, in some cases, reinforce socio-economic inequities. Teachers in these systems may have fewer incentives to work with struggling students if they know there is an option of transferring those students to other schools.

In Alabama, landlords who rent to undocumented could face felony charges

Posted on: June 20th, 2011 by Nicolas Mendoza No Comments

The new immigration enforcement law recently passed by the Alabama legislature and signed by Gov. Robert Bentley goes further than any state-level immigration enforcement law passed in the passed few years, including Arizona’s infamous SB 1070. One of the unprecedented provisions in the law makes it a crime to rent housing to unauthorized immigrants, which would put any landlord who knowingly does so at risk of facing serious jail time—up to two decades.

The provision is contained in a single sentence: “It shall be unlawful for a person to harbor an alien unlawfully present in the United States by entering into a rental agreement … with an alien to provide accommodations, if the person knows or recklessly disregards the fact that the alien is unlawfully present in the United States.” To violate this provision is to commit a Class A misdemeanor, which in Alabama is punishable by up to a year in prison, with each additional undocumented tenant representing another violation by the landlord. Once ten or more violations have been committed, the crime is upgraded to a Class C felony.

Sam Brooke, an attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, says, “If you were a [landlord] found to have a number of properties and apartments with more than ten individuals, you could face up to 20 years. … [I]t’s incredible that they would have the audacity to do this.”

Critics point out that the law includes no information as to how a landlord might determine whether a tenant is undocumented.

Originally the bill did contain a section detailing a mechanism by which potential tenants would have to verify their legal status. Potential tenants had to obtain a license to occupy a residence from the government, for which they would have to demonstrate their citizenship or legal immigration status. The section largely mirrored the text of the Farmer’s Branch, Texas, municipal ordinance passed in 2006, which was challenged by civil rights groups in 2006 and struck down by a Texas federal district court last year because it preempted federal law.

Brooke argues that by leaving out the section detailing implementation and enforcement of the renting ban, legislators were trying to avoid the court challenges of the Alabama law’s municipal counterparts: “It’s a smart thing that they left a verification process out, because every time this has faced the courts it has been thrown out,” he said.

Without any such provision in place, Brooke says, “no one knows” how the law would work in practice, because only an immigration judge could say definitively what someone’s immigration status is. Although Alabama law enforcement does have access to the Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC), which can provide local authorities with a “snapshot” of what the situation of someone’s documentation is at any point in time, that has little relevance to whether that person can constitutionally be denied the same rights to enter into housing contracts that is afforded to any other resident of the United States.

Vic Walczak, legal director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which is suing the town of Hazleton, Pa., over an immigration ordinance similar to Farmer’s Branch, says that the housing provision would effectively deny the right to live in Alabama to any immigrant whose case for residence was still ongoing in the courts, “even though the U.S. government which makes those determinations says you are allowed to stay.”

Moreover, even if landlords were allowed to use the LESC, the time and resources necessary to train everyone who rents out housing to verify immigration status—much less respect their tenants’ civil rights by doing so—could be staggering, relative to the single sentence in the law that places that obligation upon them.

Zayne Smith, an immigration policy fellow at Alabama Appleseed, a legal advocacy organization, says landlords she has spoken to are concerned about the potential liability that the law exposes them to.

“They’re saying, ‘I have tenants who are Hispanic, who are immigrants, but I don’t know whether they’re undocumented — that’s none of my business,’” she says. But the law forces landlords into an extremely difficult situation no matter what they do, she adds. “If they accuse people of presenting false I.D. and they’re wrong, they could get sued,” says Smith.

Smith says that although the law received a great deal of public scrutiny when it was being crafted in each chamber of Alabama’s legislature, the bill’s final text was substantially changed during conference, going from 42 pages to 71 pages, after which it was quickly passed by both houses with little opportunity for further public hearings. While the bill was being debated, “many changes would come and go,” says Smith. Ultimately, that meant that few people in Alabama have a clear sense of what the law will mean for them.

Legislation that uses housing policy to regulate immigration has only been tried before at the municipal level, as in Farmer’s Branch or Hazleton, the latter of which was overturned by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals for imposing too much of a burden on businesses and for including no protection against discrimination for race or national origin. Although the U.S. Supreme Court recently asked the circuit court to reconsider its decision after ruling that another immigration-related law in Arizona was constitutional, litigators and advocates involved with the case against Hazleton don’t believe that the Arizona decision will have much relevance to the ban on renting, whether at the municipal level or, in Alabama’s case, at the state level. “People need to understand that the case wasn’t reversed, there was no similar housing provision in the Arizona case,” says Walczak.

Walczak also argues that given the bad economy and poor fiscal condition of so many states it’s strange that Alabama legislators are eager to craft new immigration laws that expose them to expensive court cases defending them. The ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center have already announced their intention of challenging the Alabama law in court. Farmer’s Branch alone has spent almost $4 million defending its ordinance since 2006.

Considerable frustration is also being expressed by opponents of the law, particularly with its most infamous co-author, the anti-immigration activist and Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, who contributed to the Farmer’s Branch ordinance as well as Arizona’s SB 1070.

“This guy’s just using these municipalities as his own personal laboratory,” says Walczak.

Kobach has expressed confidence that laws like Alabama’s and Arizona’s will continue to spread throughout the country, but the apparent invitation to legal challenges, epitomized by such provisions as the ban on renting, could make even the most conservative of cash-strapped governments more reluctant to follow Alabama’s lead.

Ultimately, says the SPLC attorney Brooke, the law’s worst consequence may simply be that it has brought Alabama back to the forefront of the nation’s debate over immigration in an unflattering fashion.

“It’s a shame that it’s happening here in Alabama,” says Brooke. “We have such a troubled history on civil rights.”

American Family Association Michigan won’t reject Fischer comments on Native Americans

Posted on: February 10th, 2011 by Patrick Brendel 3 Comments

The American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer penned a blog post titled “Native Americans morally disqualified themselves from the land.”

In that post Fischer argues that the domination of the North American continent was accomplished because of European morality. His thesis was:

The native American tribes at the time of the European settlement and founding of the United States were, virtually without exception, steeped in the basest forms of superstition, had been guilty of savagery in warfare for hundreds of years, and practiced the most debased forms of sexuality.

The post has since disappeared from the Rightly Concerned blog, which is, “A project of the American Family Association.” AFA is headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Messenger e-mailed Gary Glenn, who leads the AFA Michigan affiliate, and asked for his take on Fischer’s blog. Here’s what Glenn had to say:

There are lots of issues AFA-Michigan doesn’t address. Bryan Fischer’s topic of the day is among them, aside from strongly agreeing, of course, that America would greatly benefit morally, spiritually, socially, and even fiscally from a return to the near-universal respect of the Christian faith and values on which we were founded.

That seems a very politically careful statement, careful to neither endorse nor reject Fischer’s statements.

Glenn is one of 23 state directors for the AFA, including Scott Lively of California. Even among the anti-gay religious right, Lively stands out for the virulence and, yes, savagery of his bigotry. He is the co-author of The Pink Swastika, a book that claims that “homosexuals are the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities.” Never mind that homosexuality was outlawed in Nazi Germany and that the Nazi government killed hundreds of thousands of homosexuals along with six million Jews in their death camps.

Both Fischer and Lively are strong advocates of criminalizing homosexuality. Fischer has argued that all homosexuals should be forced into “reversion therapy” to turn them into straight people. Lively openly advocates for putting gays in prison.

Glenn also thinks the states should be allowed to criminalize homosexuality, telling the Messenger last February, “The short answer to your question is yes, we believe that states should be free to regulate and prohibit behavior that’s a violation of community standards and a proven threat to public health and safety — including, as most of the United States did throughout its history, homosexual behavior.”