March 2, 2016 at 10:56 am EST | by Chris Johnson
Cruz announces anti-LGBT ‘religious liberty’ council
Ted Cruz, United States Senate, Values Voter Summit, U.S. Congress, Republican Party, Texas, gay news, Washington Blade

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has created an anti-LGBT religious liberty council. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has created a “religious liberty” advisory council for his campaign that seems intent on undermining LGBT rights.

The Cruz campaign announced the council on Monday, the day before many conservative Southern states were up for grabs in the Republican primary on Super Tuesday. (Cruz would ultimately win Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska, although Donald Trump took the lion’s share of the night.)

“Religious liberty is the first freedom guaranteed to Americans under the Constitution, and ensuring the protection of that right has been a priority my entire adult life,” Cruz said. “Increasingly, renegade government officials seek to coerce people of faith either to act in a manner that violates their faith or forfeit their career. When I am elected president, that will change. It is time for our liberties to be respected in Washington. The right to religious liberty built America, and denying that right is both un-American and morally wrong.”

In the context of the Republican primary, the term “religious liberty” is considered code for attempts to enable anti-LGBT discrimination. A wave of “religious freedom” bills pending before state legislatures are seen to allow businesses and individuals to deny services to LGBT people out of religious objections.

Cruz’s council is basically a cadre of anti-LGBT advocates. Among is Bishop Harry Jackson, senior of the Maryland-based Hope Christian Church and leading opponent of the same-sex marriage law in D.C.

Another member is Tony Perkins, president of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, who had earlier endorsed Cruz and said in a statement he’s “honored” to join the candidate’s “religious liberty” advisory council.

“Never before has religious freedom been more endangered than it is today under the policies of the Obama administration,” Perkins said. “We need a president who upon entering office will immediately begin reversing the damage done to our freedom to believe and our ability to live according to those beliefs.”

Cruz establishes his “religious liberty” just days after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) announced his “marriage and family” board before the South Carolina primary. Both boards seem to have the same purpose of enabling anti-LGBT discrimination.

In fact, there’s overlap in the membership of the two boards. Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow Heritage Foundation known for writing tracts in opposition to same-sex marriage in favor of anti-LGBT discrimination, is a member of both Rubio and Cruz’s groups.

Cruz has made opposition to LGBT rights in the guise of religious liberty a cornerstone of his campaign. The candidate has said as president he’d instruct the IRS and Department of Justice to investigate claims of violations of religious freedom.

JoDee Winterhof, vice president for policy and political affairs with the Human Rights Campaign, drew attention to the overlap between Rubio and Cruz’s advisory boards in her criticism of them.

“It’s easy to see why Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are so inseparable when it comes to repealing nationwide marriage equality and rolling back the gains we’ve made under President Obama on LGBT equality: They’re both getting advice from some of the same terrible sources,” Winterhof said.

The full membership of Cruz’s “religious liberty” advisory council follows:

Chair – Tony Perkins
President, Family Research Council


Ryan Anderson, Ph.D.
William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation


Dr. Tony Beam
Vice President for Student Services and Christian Worldview, North Greenville University


David Benham, entrepreneur


Jason Benham, entrepreneur


Ambassador Ken Blackwell
Former US Ambassador to the UN for Human Rights


Teresa S. Collett
Professor, University of St. Thomas


Jim Garlow, Ph.D.
Pastor, Skyline Church, San Diego, CA


Dr. Mark Harris
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC


Pastor Jack Hibbs
Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, CA


Bishop Harry Jackson
Senior Pastor, Hope Christian Church, Bishop, International Communion of Evangelical Churches


Richard Lee, Ph.D.
President, There’s Hope America


Paige Patterson, Ph.D
President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


Everett Piper, Ph.D.
President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University


Jay Richards, Ph.D.
Assistant Research Professor, School of Business & Economics, The Catholic University of America


Steve Riggle, Ph.D.
Senior Pastor, Grace Community Church


Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, Ph.D.
President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference


Kelly Shackelford
President and CEO, First Liberty Institute


Carol Swain, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science and Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

  • That must be the Homophobic All-Star dream team. But who replaced Scalia?

  • Be very afraid. I don’t want Trump but Cruz is much more dangerous

    • So is Rubio! Either one is an archenemy to our community. Trump ironically is the lesser of all evils here but we don’t know yet if he will do something similar yet or not to placate our enemies.

      Hopefully this will wake up GLBT Americans to the fact that being who you are still matters and despite seeing ourselves in the media more than ever and having won marriage equality we can NEVER become complacent and assume our liberties and legal rights are safe!

      • I dunno, I. Fatigue from twenty-hour campaign days can reveal a candidate’s truer nature.

        Some might say Marco has a healthy fascination with The Donald’s hands.

      • the thing is, trump is a fiscal conservative, but not necessarily a social one. supporting liberals in the past, voting that way as well shows he is NOT a diehard republican, so might be his saving grace, at least we can hope.

        • A better hope would be voting for the democratic candidate. After all the lies mitt Romney told our community for their support in Massachusetts then his crusade against us after he gained power I feel you can never trust a republican.

          Besides anyone with the catchphrase “you’re fired” strikes me as callous and not someone I want to see have power that can influence our personal lives.

          • maybe, but please can you show me where either of the dem candidates have done ANYTHING??? not that it happened while they were in office (Like the medicare change that happened a year, 2 years ago REINSTATING coverage for SRS under medicare, it was a lawsuit from a transwoman AGAINST his administration, they lost, we won), but something THEY spearheaded, pushed for and got it done? ALL politicians blow hot air, it unfortunately has become part and parcel, just as during primaries they go to the far extreme to win the party nomination, then go towards the center in their promises to win the election.

            I know HC has done some things for gay rights, but nada that i can show for trans. nor her husband, nor BC. i am libertarian. i believe that actions show more than empty promises. i think all people should have their rights, but no ones trumps another. being trans, getting surgery, being treated as a HUMAN being is NOT trampling anyones rights, religious or other wise. (why i say the Rep party left ME behind, they went overboard with all the religious crap)

          • Has the GOP done anything good for trans? No party had a great record but I’m sure the GOP has a more hostile one.

            Obama has done more for the gay and lesbian community than any president. Edward Kennedy fought for us.

            Didn’t we get a federal hate crimes law that was trans inclusive while the Dems control of congress? That was unprecedented as we had no protections for glbt people before that. It was significant.

            The GOP agenda and platform continues to be specifically against promoting and expanding our welfare and legal protections. Instead they push for religious freedom laws to trump our rights giving us no legal recourse. Dems are not doing that. Need I go on?

            How many politicians can you count on one hand that have done anything for trans specifically that are running for president?

            Don’t tell me that you plan to be the self appointed trans ambassador to the GOP like Jenner for Cruz? He won’t let you share the same bathroom with his wife.

          • i never claimed that the GOP was pro lgbtq, in fact it has become their rallying point NOT to be, weird considering we are such a small percentage of the population. yes they have for the LGB community, nothing really, besides saying a word in a press conference, or making claims. things HAVE happened, but every single one of them as far as i can see (again anyone please show me PROOF i am wrong, i just cant find any), but i DO KNOW that the T has been thrown under the bus several times, in favor of the LGB ( i am a bisexual transwoman just to clarify) such as enda 2013.

      • Let us not forget that The Donald is picking up a lot of the evangelical vote.

        • Noted but Cruz snd Rubio are a lot like Rick Santorum when it comes to our issues.

          Not saying I trust or like trump but it’s all relative isn’t it?

          • Yeah. But I am not certain where Trump stands on LGBT issues. He strikes me as the kind who would do an electoral calculus on what would get him more votes. He knows he would get very few from our side, even if he became a fervent LGBT supporter, but it would cement his hold on the evangelical/charismatic right. I have little doubt that he would throw over our civil rights for a calculus that gave him one extra vote.

          • I agree with that and that’s why we cannot support the GOP candidate!

          • I think you are right. I do not see how a trans person would vote for any of the GOP candidates and I am a conservative republican. I cast my first ballot for Richard Nixon in 1972 and voted Republican river since, This will be the fist time I have voted for a democrat but the chuckle heads my party has running have left me no choice,

  • Kinda light on Catholics

  • Wouldn’t expect anything less from this theocrat…

  • Just remember America, they legalized discrimination for over a century, largely under the guise of “religious freedom”…

    They want to bring back the glory days when they could harass, attack, throw out, and KILL people that didnt conform to the religious beliefs of the moronic majority…


  • Caitlyn Jenner has found a great way to get a tax break and kill trannies at the same time. talk about a wet dream

  • Next is the Decency Coalition with David Duke as Chair: to protect the rights of “Christians” to discriminate against people of color. After that…

  • Okay, I am being totally honest. Can someone please explain to me besides Ted’s Cruz and the majority of Christians opposition to gay marriage and the right for Christians to refuse service to LBGT US citizens what other rights the Church is loosing to the LBGT? Totally honest. If there is a Christian website that explains this would be glad for the info. Thank you.

  • He’s true evil

  • and yet you are fine taking our money we donate for “the cause” and using us for your own wants, but when its time for US to get some equality, its just too hard i guess? do you even KNOW of stonewall? you know the START of the gay rights movement, started mainly by those who are T??? guess we should have left it alone and just our own thing? LGB people like you really get to me. are you a TERF maybe? or follow the line that we are just gay men who couldnt handle being called gay? like being trans is just SOOO much easier right?

    • I sent you a detailed response, but the Blade with its censorship has to review it. Maybe you’ll see it. Stay tuned. I hardly think anything I said needs to be approved.

    • Also, if the trans issues is no obstacle for ENDA than why is it that states that have GLB rights protected have issue passing Trans Bills? Look at Massachusetts, the GOP Governor (hardly a surprise) won’t sign the bill.

      This is a state with a liberal reputation! It was the first to embrace marriage equality! It has long had the rights of GLB protected under the law. Yet the trans issue is still an obstacle.

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