Mathew Staver has a long history of fighting LGBTQ equality.
A right-wing lawyer has a new television show devoted to spreading harmful misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and the LGBTQ community.
Mathew Staver, who founded Liberty Counsel, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has called an anti-LGBTQ hate group, has a new show with his wife Anita Staver, called "Freedom Alive!" The show premiered March 7 on Good Life 45 TV.
Staver has devoted much of his career to fighting all advancements in LGBTQ equality. In the past, he represented Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who denied marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and refused to issue them even after she received a federal court ordering her to do so.
He has a long history of discriminatory comments as well.
Staver has claimed that allowing the Boy Scouts to be inclusive to gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders would make the organization "a playground for pedophiles" and said marriage equality would lead to a "rampant increase in diseases" and would be "destructive to our very social fabric."
In 2015, Staver claimed in fundraising emails that the "the PURGE of Christians in America has begun" and compared Liberty Counsel's designation as an anti-LGBTQ hate group to being Jewish in Nazi Germany.
In 2019, NBC News reported that the Liberty Counsel wanted LGBTQ people taken out of the Justice for Victims of Lynching bill.
"This is a way to slip it in under a so-called anti-lynching bill, and to then to sort of circle the wagon and then go for the juggler [sic] at some time in the future," Staver told to Christian news site OneNewsNow in 2019. OneNewsNow is owned and operated by the American Family Association, a group that has boycotted companies with LGBTQ inclusive policies.
During the pandemic, which has so far cost more than half a million Americans their lives, Staver advocated for churches that held in-person services against health experts' advice.
Staver has already used his television show to do more harm during the pandemic, hosting a conspiracy theorist, Lee Merritt, who himself has spread harmful lies about the COVID-19 vaccines.
"You cannot terrorize a world with designer viruses if you have a treatment in your back pocket. I think this is a big psychologic operation that's designed not to make us healthier but for control," Merrit told Staver on the show's most recent episode.
She also falsely called the vaccines an "experimental biologic agent."
On Staver's second episode, he complained to guest Steve Stiger that the Equality Act, a federal nondiscrimination bill, would no longer allow for harmful practices that attempt to change a person's gender or sexual orientation, commonly known as "conversion therapy."
"Here's the other thing: counseling. This bill says you cannot counsel anybody who is seeking to change or overcome unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or gender confusion," he said. "Somebody comes to you as a counselor or as a pastor and they say I'm struggling with these unwanted feelings, Steve, or behaviors or thoughts and I need help to overcome it because it conflicts with my religious values. Under this bill, it's banned for all ages, not just minors."
The American Psychological Association opposes "conversion therapy" and has called it a dangerous practice.
"Sexual orientation change therapy is highly unlikely to change a patient’s sexual orientation and there is real evidence of harm," the group said in November. "...The presumption behind these treatments is that any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality is inherently flawed and must be fixed. Based on the available research, APA rejects the presumption that a gay or lesbian young person must change."
Staver's comes as numerous states are attempting to introduce or advance anti-LGBTQ bills, including some banning transgender people from playing on the sports team of their gender.
Others have introduced religious refusal legislation that would harm LGBTQ people's access to health care.
And in Alabama, one bill has gone so far as to force schools to out LGBTQ youth to their parents, without the minor's consent.
"School officials may think they're doing the right thing, but revealing a student's sexual orientation or gender identity to their parents not only violates the student’s privacy rights, but can open an LGBT child to hostility, rejection, and even violence from their parents," the American Civil Liberties Union has said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.