To Whom It May Concern,
I have always been an admirer of the Family Research Council’s work in support of the right to life, true marriage, religious liberty, and other traditional American values. For years, I have also worked towards those goals in my community and on my weblog. I fought fiercely for Wisconsin’s Marriage Protection Amendment in 2006. Like most conservatives, I have often been slandered as a bigot because I oppose same-sex marriage, civil unions, and gay adoption.
I say this so that, when I express how shocked, offended and betrayed I felt upon seeing the conduct of one of your spokesmen recently, you understand my full meaning.
FRC Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg recently appeared on MSNBC’s “Hardball” to discuss the issue of gay soldiers serving openly in the US military with Chris Matthews. The segment ended with the following exchange:
MATTHEWS: Do you think we should outlaw gay behavior?
SPRIGG: Well, I – I think certainly it’s defensible.
MATTHEWS: I’m just asking you, should we outlaw gay behavior?
SPRIGG: I think the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
MATTHEWS: So we should outlaw gay behavior.
SPRIGG: Uh, yes.
When I saw the headlines announcing, “Family Research Council Spokesman Advocates Criminalizing Homosexuality,” I was certain they had to be lies, more out-of-context distortions of honorable conservative beliefs. But for once, the Left appears to be correct.
Both as a matter of moral principle and of political common sense, Mr. Sprigg’s comments are indefensible. Our Founding Fathers clearly wanted American to be guided by a firm sense of morality, and believed that Judeo-Christian religious values were essential to the continued survival of a republic. But they also established the principle of limited government, authorized only to do a certain number of things and dedicated to preserving individual liberty.
The question of whether society should formally endorse homosexual behavior via civil marriage is fundamentally different from the question of whether or not homosexuals are human beings equally entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or whether or not it is just for any level of government to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults. Indeed, one can even recognize that Lawrence was an instance of judicial overreach without supporting the merits of the statute in dispute.
As a Christian, an American, and a conservative, I am appalled that it would ever cross any of my leaders’ minds to advocate such an un-American policy as criminalizing gay behavior. Not only would such beliefs constitute genuine persecution of American citizens, but they would set the stage for a dangerous expansion of governmental power over individual liberty.
Regarding political common sense, it is baffling to me that, given the Left’s long-standing history of demonizing believers in traditional values, a prominent, experienced conservative spokesman such as Mr. Sprigg would not instantly recognize Matthews’ question as a trap and know enough not to take the bait. Liberals and gay activists have wasted no time in seizing upon his comments not just to condemn Peter Sprigg, but to condemn all of us. It is bad enough that defenders of true marriage routinely have to deal with false charges of bigotry and extremism; the last thing any of us needs is a credible one.
Naturally, I would appreciate an explanation from Mr. Sprigg as to just what he meant, if he misspoke, but his comments seem clear enough that I have a hard time imagining that he did not understand the question, or that he meant something other than what he said. Mr. Sprigg’s reckless and un-conservative remarks have undermined the battle for true marriage, and they threaten to tarnish all of the good work the Family Research Council has done in the past, and will continue to do in the future. It pains me to say it, but I see only one way for the FRC to preserve—and, indeed, to deserve—its credibility: Peter Sprigg should be relieved of his duties with the organization, effective immediately. Thank you for your time.
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also blogs at the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online, where this letter has been cross-posted.