Tony Perkins has worn many hats throughout his life: television reporter, police officer, Louisiana state representative, head of a certified hate group. But the president of the viciously homophobic Family Research Council earned a new title this week when Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed him to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, which awards grants, trains officers, and regulates law enforcement throughout the state.
Given that homosexuality remains criminalized in Louisiana and that gay men are still arrested simply for having sex—in direct violation of the U.S. Supreme Court—one might think that things couldn’t get any worse for Louisiana’s LGBT population. (And don’t even think about same-sex marriage.) But Perkins’ tenure on the commission may well drag the state to new, even darker depths of anti-gay enmity. Perkins’ brand of homophobia has an almost retro tinge of hysteria to it—and he’ll now have a chance to inflict it on the entire state’s law enforcement officers.
Why is Perkins’ bigotry so uniquely toxic? Mostly because it’s so intensely insane. While most anti-gay activists have moved onto vague prattle of defending marriage and protecting family, Perkins still clings to the most appalling (and thoroughly disproven) component of homophobia: the charge of pedophilia. According to Perkins, pedophilia “is a homosexual problem” that seeks to “recognize pedophiles as the ‘prophets’ of the new sexual order.” Gay men are “more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are heterosexual men”; in fact, “homosexuals have entered the [Boy] Scouts in the past for predatory purposes.” What’s worse, “homosexual activists”—those “intolerant,” “hateful,” “vile,” and “spiteful” predators—aren’t just content to engage in pedophilia: They’re also “part of a concerted effort” to “recruit ... kids” into the gay “lifestyle.”
And that’s really only the start of the lunacy. Perkins has also compared gay rights activists to terrorists (“it’s a strike against the general populace simply to spread fear and intimidation”), supported Uganda’s death penalty for gays, and linked mass shootings with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. There’s more, but you get the idea. Perkins isn’t a member of the modern, almost apologetic anti-gay movement. He’s a relic from the Reagan-era culture wars, fixating on debunked obloquy, tossing off discredited calumnies with the conviction of a very passionate dolt. Until now, Perkins’ twisted gospel has mostly echoed around his own increasingly disreputable fringe. But Gov. Jindal just put him in the driver’s seat of an entire state’s law enforcement. We should all brace for the crash.