FRC continues to confound

FRC CONTINUES TO CONFOUND…. The Family Research Council, arguably D.C.’s most influential religious right organization on social and cultural issues, picks its battles carefully — and applies its principles selectively.

For example, the FRC had closely allied itself with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), right up until his sex scandal, at which point the group no longer had anything to say about the governor. The FRC has apparently been saving up its outrage for Kevin Jennings, an Obama appointee to the Department of Education who (cue scary music) happens to be gay.

The Family Research Council has embarked on a new public relations effort against a particular Obama Administration appointee, Kevin Jennings, saying he should not be in his new position at the Department of Education because of his previous position in private activism — as executive director of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Jennings is set to begin his new job on Monday, as Assistant Deputy Secretary of Education for the Department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, after his appointment was announced about a month ago. And this week, FRC launched a last-minute Web petition to oppose him. It asks a pointed question: Would you choose this teacher to guide your children?

The far-right group has gone through a book Jennings wrote a few years ago about his life experiences, including his belief that the religious right movement should “drop dead,” to try to create a controversy where none exists.

The Family Research Council, which insists Jennings supports “indoctrinating even elementary-age children in pro-homosexual ideology,” even put together talking points (pdf) on why Jennings should be excluded from employment in the Department of Education. Amanda Terkel had the patience to fact-check the whole thing, and not surprisingly, the right-wing arguments don’t stand up well to scrutiny.

The bottom line, though, remains the same: the Family Research Council is virulently anti-gay, is angry that Obama appointed a high-profile supporter of gay rights to a key government post, and wants to engage in some ridiculous demagoguery about gays and kids.

GLSEN has worked for years to make public schools safe environments for students, and the FRC’s attacks notwithstanding, I’m delighted to see the administration bring Jennings on board.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.