Yesterday, Political Research Associates hosted a briefing call for marriage advocates featuring our new report, The Right’s Marriage Message, a critical resource for understanding trends in anti-LGBTQ messaging and effectiveness.
David Dodge, report author, explains that the “harm to kids” frame, one of the most successful in the right-wing repertoire, appeared as barely a sidenote in the fall 2012 election season. He warns LGBTQ advocates should be wary of its resurrection. Instead, Dodge saw an increase in advertisements framing same-sex marriage as an attack on religious liberty—painting Christians, not LGBTQ individuals, as the true “victims” in the marriage equality debate. PRA lead gender justice researcher Malika Redmond, the call’s moderator, added that an upcoming PRA report would examine the right-wing’s increasingly common “religious liberty” frame in arguing for a right to discriminate. The field testing of ad messaging this past year represents only a portion of this broader movement.
Amy L. Stone, author of a recent PRA article on the use of religious liberty rhetoric in the fall 2012 ballot initiatives, joined Dodge in presenting on the call and situated his findings beyond the marriage equality battle. The “harm to children” approach has been a prominent tactic in many anti-LGBTQ campaigns, with rhetoric over the decades that included insinuations that LGBTQ people are child abusers and claiming that they recruit children to be gay. Stone remarked that while the Right has updated this messaging to be less outrageous for modern times, today it particularly targets transgender individuals as dangerous to children and even adults.
“They capitalize on the fact that people don’t know a lot about transgender rights,” she said, underlining the relatively low visibility of transgender people in the media. While painting “gays as pedophiles is just not palatable to the mainstream public anymore,” Stone commented, it’s not entirely off the table for less visible sexual minorities.