January 29, 2015 at 9:01 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Anti-LGBT group fires controversial spokesperson

Bryan Fischer, American Family Association, gay news, Washington Blade

Bryan Fischer (Image via YouTube)

A Mississippi-based anti-LGBT group has fired its controversial spokesperson amid an outcry over his controversial comments about homosexuality, Nazi Germany and other issues.

Patrick Vaughn, general counsel for the American Family Association, on Wednesday told the Southern Poverty Law Center in a letter that Bryan Fischer is “no longer a spokesperson” for his organization.

Vaughn wrote the American Family Association “rejects” Fischer’s statement that “homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” Vaughn further noted his organization also “rejects” Fischer’s claims the country needs “an underground railroad to protect innocent children from same-sex households” and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could become “our first lesbian president.”

“The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has often cited the above statements by Bryan Fischer and attributed them as views held by the American Family Association,” wrote Vaughn. “This letter will serve to clarify that AFA does not hold these views and that AFA has renounced Bryan Fischer’s statements.”

Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, on Wednesday told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that his organization fired Fischer as its spokesperson and its director of issues analysis because of “the sound bite quotes, you know, the Hitler and homosexuality one” her program highlighted last Friday.

News of Fischer’s termination broke on the same day that Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, reported that Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus and roughly 60 other RNC members will travel to the Jewish State at the end of this month on a nine day, an all-expenses-paid trip the American Family Association has sponsored through its American Renewal Project.

Haaretz highlighted Fischer’s assertion last September the U.S. is a “Christian nation and not a Jewish or Muslim one.” The Israeli newspaper also referenced a segment on last Friday’s “Rachel Maddow Show” that showed Fischer describing gay activists as “jack-booted homo-fascist thugs.”

Fischer on his Twitter page appeared to mock the “Rachel Maddow Show” report over his termination.

RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski on Thursday told the “Rachel Maddow Show” in a short statement that “we don’t agree with Bryan Fischer’s comments and are glad” the American Family Association “has severed ties with him.”

Kukowski did not return the Washington Blade’s request for comment about Fischer and specific people who are on the American Family Association’s trip to Israel.

Haaretz reported that Priebus’ wife and RNC Secretary Susie Hudson are among those who are taking part in the trip that begins on Saturday. David Lane, who directs the American Renewal Project, has organized it.

Fischer to continue to host radio program

Vaughn in his letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Fischer will continue to host his program that airs on the 200 radio stations the American Family Association operates throughout the country. The controversial figure will also continue to blog, according to Vaughn.

Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has labeled the American Family Association a hate group, on Thursday questioned the decision to allow Fischer to remain on the air.

“Your longtime spokesperson and director of issues analysis has been making bigoted statements for years,” wrote Cohen in a letter to Vaughn, noting he questions the sincerity of the American Family Association’s decision to publicly distance itself from Fischer’s comments. “The fact that the AFA is continuing to allow Mr. Fischer to host a daily radio show and blog on its website also makes us question the AFA’s sincerity.”

Neither Fischer, nor the American Family Association returned the Blade’s request for comment.

Rev. Brandiilyne Dear, a lesbian minister in Laurel, Miss., who founded the Dandelion Project, a support group for LGBT people in Mississippi’s Pine Belt, told the Blade last July the American Family Association claimed the gym she owns with her partner were “discriminating against Christianity” after they joined a campaign against a state law that opponents contend allows businesses to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs.

Members of the American Family Association were among those who attended a private ceremony last April during which Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed the controversial statute.

“Bryan Fischer was not only anti-gay, but he was also anti-Christ because none of his words or actions lined up with that of the Jesus Christ that I know and serve,” Dear told the Blade on Thursday. “Although we are pleased with the termination of Bryan Fischer, we hope and pray that it isn’t too late and that he will not be replaced by another zealot whose mission is to steal, kill and destroy.”

Mississippi, We Don't Discriminate, gay news, Washington Blade

Rev. Brandiilyne Dear, founder of the Dandelion Project, an LGBT advocacy group in the Mississippi Pine Belt. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Reports indicate the American Family Association has tapped Lane to replace Fischer as its spokesperson.

Right Wing Watch, a People for the American Way blog, last month reported Lane has a history of anti-LGBT rhetoric that includes his claim that “homosexuals praying at [Obama’s] inauguration” would prompt God to allow car bombs in D.C., Los Angeles and Iowa. The American Revival Project organized the Jan. 24 prayer rally in Baton Rouge, La., at which Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal spoke.

Jeff White, executive director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Rainbow Center, an LGBT advocacy group based in Bay Saint Louis, Miss., on Thursday noted to the Blade that Fischer last fall accused a transgender man of committing “biological fraud” to marry his partner in the Magnolia State.

“This statement alone is a prime example of the tactics used by him to further his own agenda of hate and bigotry,” said White.

White told the Blade he is “elated to learn that” Fischer “is no longer the spokesperson for” the American Family Association.” He nevertheless stressed he is “disheartened to know that he will still have his radio show” on the anti-LGBT organization’s radio network.

“That is where his true platform lies and this is how he will continue to spread his lies and ignorance,” White told the Blade.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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