NOM’s Brian Brown Went to Russia to Push Anti-Gay Laws

At RD, we’ve covered the efforts of American religious right groups to promote anti-gay prejudice, discrimination, and persecution at home and abroad.  This week, Miranda Blue at People For the American Way, where I am a senior fellow, is publishing a series of reports at PFAW’s Right Wing Watch on American religious conservatives’ involvement in the passage of anti-gay legislation in Russia, where brutal anti-gay violence is one consequence of the rhetorical and legal gay-bashing by Russian officials. 

One particularly newsworthy item is Blue’s reporting on a previously unpublicized trip that the National Organization for Marriage’s Brian Brown made to Russia earlier this year. He went as part of a delegation led by far-right French leaders to cheer on conservative legislators considering a ban on adoption of Russian children by people who live in countries that support LGBT equality. 

According to Russian news reports, the French activists and Brown attended two events in Moscow. One was a joint meeting on changes in international adoption laws with the Duma’s committee on foreign affairs and its committee on family, women and children – whose chair, Yelena Mizulina, authored the ban on gay “propaganda” and the adoption bill.

The other event was a roundtable discussion on “Traditional Values: The Future of the European Peoples,” hosted by the St. Basil the Great Foundation – an Orthodox group run by Konstantin Malofeev, the head of a private equity group and spirited anti-gay activist – and also sponsored by the Duma’s family committee, the right-wing Center for Social-Conservative Policy, and a new multi-party group of Russian MPs formed, with approval of the Russian Orthodox Church, to “protect traditional Christian values” and fight “aggressive liberalism” inreaction to Pussy Riot’s protests. Among the measures pushed by the group was the new law imposing jail time for “insulting religious feelings.”

Brown and NOM have not said anything publicly about his trip, even though he has otherwise bragged about his support for anti-gay activism overseas.  NOM and declined to comment for the RWW story. But RWW unearthed coverage from inside Russia. Among the things Brown said in an interview:

Right now you’re having the fight about adoption, but the adoption issue is indivisible from the marriage issue. If you don’t defend your values now, I’m afraid we’re going to see very negative developments all over the world.

And from his speech to the Duma:

I think that this visit, the invitation to visit Russia, will enable the development of this movement around the world. We will band together, we will defend our children and their normal civil rights. Every child should have the right to have normal parents: a father and a mother.

RWW also reports on the extensive use that anti-equality activists and legislators in Russia have made of the thoroughly  discredited, conservative-funded “New Family Structures Study” by Mark Regnerus. 

Peter Montgomery, an associate editor for Religion Dispatches, is a Senior Fellow at People For the American Way Foundation where he was on staff for 15 years. Before that he was associate director of grassroots lobbying for Common Cause and wrote for Common Cause Magazine, an award-winning journal featuring investigative reporting about the federal government.