Utahns opening their Sunday editions of The Salt Lake Tribune or the Deseret Morning News were shocked to discover a full-page ad, created by the group America Forever, imploring them to “Stand Up & Stop the Homosexual Movement”. The ad’s a response of Utah’s Common Ground Initiative, which aims to provide some basic rights to gays and lesbians, based on the Mormon Church’s earlier statements last year that they supported such rights, even if they didn’t support marriage. The ad is chock-a-block with crazy nutjob phrases like “Homosexuality is not a race!!”, “We should not be forced to associate and accept homosexuality!” and reprints something called ‘The Homosexual Declaration of War’, which begins, “We will sodomize your children” and devolves from there.
We’d refute those statements if we understood what they were talking about. In any event, some conservatives are worried that crazies might be too extreme, even for Utah, and are worried about a backlash. Republican Rep. Carl Wimmer tells the Salt Lake Tribune:
“Everything they’re doing crosses the line,” Wimmer said Monday, noting he helped to eject members of America Forever from an Equality Utah news conference last week after they became confrontational.
“There’s no need to have hateful discourse,” Wimmer said. “Quite frankly, they make those of us who are on the side of traditional marriage — they make a lot of us — look bad.”
Tribune columnist Rebbecca Walsh welcomes the backlash, saying:
” I still like the idea of America Forever buying full-price newspaper ads. That’s a nice chunk of change for The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News .
And, in the end, Rodrigues and Filho’s tactics will backfire. Despite their reputations, most Utahns are moderates. They are uncomfortable with America Forever’s over-the-top homophobia. Years ago, when lawmakers considered hate-crimes legislation that listed “sexual orientation” as a protected class, Rodrigues and Filho passed out white roses with baby’s breath — for purity, get it? Their strategy since has become much more vile: A week ago, Rodrigues told lesbian lawmaker Christine Johnson, a Salt Lake City Democrat, that her vagina is wasted.
More ads from Rodrigues and Filho can only drive public opinion to the center.
“It took me a while to realize I should be grateful for Chris Buttars,” says Johnson. “He’s giving me allies. This group is the same.”
But for gay rights activists in Utah, the ad is just another distraction from the work at hand. Says Mike Thompson of Equality Utah:
“There’s no reason to respond directly to the content of the ad because it’s just ridiculous. The conversation should be focused on the Common Ground Initiative and the bills that are part of that.”