Editor's note - Due to today's eclipse, there will be no news briefs
In late July, Rolling Stone magazine published a profile of gay millionaire activist Tim Gill. The religious and conservative right went ballistic, claiming that Gill said he would be targeting Christians.
|Tim Gill is not targeting Christians.|
Like so many other claims about the LGBTQ community and individuals they've made in the past, this claim was a shameful lie. But it gained so much traction in right-wing circles that the author of the original Rolling Stone piece, Andy Kroll, wrote a follow-up in which he called out those who distorted his first article:
The reaction to my recent profile of Tim Gill, the 63-year-old tech entrepreneur who has spent nearly $500 million of his fortune to win equal rights for LGBTQ people in America, is a small but useful case study of how the warped echo chamber of conservative media works.
The story went largely unnoticed by conservatives when it first appeared a month ago. Yet in the past 48 hours, the boldface names of today's right-wing media—Breitbart News, the Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Glenn Beck's The Blaze, The Federalist—have seized on the story. Every one of these outlets has chosen to fixate on – and badly mangle – a single quote of Gill's. Here's the passage in which it appears:
"More broadly, for Gill and his allies, nondiscrimination is the new front of the movement: a campaign that pits LGBTQ advocates against a religious right that responded to marriage equality by redoubling its efforts. The election of Donald Trump, who claims to support gay rights but stocked his administration with anti-LGBTQ extremists, has only emboldened those looking to erase the gains of the past decade. Gill refuses to go on the defense. 'We're going into the hardest states in the country,' he says. 'We're going to punish the wicked.'"
Pointing to this solitary quote, conservative outlets say that Gill is "targeting" Christians. The Federalist writes that Gill is "aiming to punish Christians who don't want to participate in same-sex weddings." The Blaze claims that Gill "called for the punishment of Christians who refuse to take part in same-sex weddings." The Washington Times ran this headline: "Gay megadonor on going after Christians: 'We're going to punish the wicked.'"
This is complete nonsense.
Not once in my profile does Gill talk about "targeting" Christians. Not once does Gill so much as hint at singling out Christians or adherents of any other religion. Not once does the word "Christian" appear. The authors of these cookie-cutter stories sprouting up across the conservative blogosphere either didn't bother to read the actual piece or were blinded by their own biases. (None of the outlets in question attempted to contact Gill or his foundation for comment or clarification, according to a Gill spokesman.) .
. . . . Gill has used the phrase "punish the wicked" as a rallying cry for years. "The wicked" is anyone who stands in the way of progress on equal rights for LGBTQ people: politicians, activists, lawyers, some people of faith, and plenty more with no religious affiliation whatsoever. This isn't a Democrat-Republican thing: Some of the most brutal and effective campaigns mounted by Gill's operation have targeted Democrats who opposed marriage equality. (See, for instance, the 2010 Fight Back New York campaign.) For the quote in question, "the wicked" refers to anti-equality lawmakers on the ballot in 2016, such as then-North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who signed his state's infamous HB2 bathroom bill. (With Gill's help, Democrat Roy Cooper ousted McCrory and then partially repealed HB2.) "The wicked" refers to the lawmakers who, in response to the Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell decision legalizing same-sex marriage, have introduced dozens of so-called religious freedom restoration bills that would give legal cover for individuals and businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.