GOP candidate brags about endorsements from hate groups


North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest said this month he was 'grateful' to have the backing of both the North Carolina Values Coalition and the Family Research Council.

North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest (R) has touted endorsements from two anti-LGBTQ groups in recent days.

One of those organizations has been designated a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Forest is currently running for governor to replace incumbent Roy Cooper (D) in November.

"Honored to have the wholehearted endorsement of North Carolina Values Coalition," he wrote on Facebook Tuesday. "Their grassroots work to advocate for life, strong families, and religious liberty is known across the state."

One week earlier, Forest wrote that he was "grateful for the endorsement of FRC Action," adding, "We appreciate their work defending faith, family, and freedom."

Dan Forest for Governor Facebook page

FRC Action is the political arm of Tony Perkins' Family Research Council. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated the Family Research Council a hate group, citing its frequent "claims about the LGBT community based on discredited research and junk science."

Perkins himself falsely suggested in 2010 that there was "overlap" between pedophilia and homosexuality. "While activists like to claim that pedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two," he claimed. "… It is a homosexual problem."

The North Carolina Values Coalition, created and run by executive director Tami Fitzgerald, has been at the forefront of nearly every anti-LGBTQ effort in the state.

Fitzgerald opposed a 2009 anti-bullying bill on the grounds that it included "sexual orientation," which she claimed encompassed pedophilia and bestiality. Her group also led the charge for HB2, the state's infamous 2016 law barring local non-discrimination ordinances and banning transgender people from using public restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. The Coalition called HB2 a "compassionate, reasonable law" that ensured "little girl[s]" would not "lose [their] privacy and dignity to a boy in the locker room."

Forest backed HB2 in 2016, claiming falsely, "Transgenderism is a feeling ... it could be a feeling just for the day."

He continued to defend the law even after it cost the state tens of millions of dollars from economic boycotts. When the NCAA announced it would move its championships out of the state over the law, Forest complained that the "action sends a message to every female athlete and female fan attending their events that their privacy and security in a bathroom, shower or locker room isn't worth the price of a ticket to a ballgame."

In 2017, after then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R) lost reelection in 2016 — in large part due to the backlash over HB2 — the law was partially repealed. Forest fiercely opposed this and wrongly claimed Gov. Roy Cooper (D) wanted to create "a state sanctioned 'Look But Don't Touch' policy in our bathrooms."

Forest did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether his anti-LGBTQ views have changed.

Forest will face off with his Republican primary opponent for the GOP nomination on March 3, and is widely considered to be the favorite. The winner will likely take on Cooper in November in what could be a close race.

Forest has made national news in recent months for several debunked claims that "tens of thousands" of kids in the state had been attacked by undocumented immigrants and for a controversial sermon in which he claimed diversity was destroying America.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.