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US senator withdraws space for anti-gay group’s panel on Russia’s laws

House leader John Boehner intervenes to secure new room for World Congress of Families

US House of Representatives Leader helps anti-gay group secure new meeting room after its original space was revoked. Credit: wikipedia.org

An anti-gay group that scheduled a discussion covering what the US could learn from Russia's implementation of anti-gay laws had its Capitol Hill meeting space pulled Nov 15, but then secured new space with the help of House leader John Boehner, BuzzFeed reports.

Metro Weekly reports that the invitation to the World Congress of Families discussion, "Family Policy Lessons From Other Lands: What Should America Learn?," asked in part, "what might conservative Americans learn from Russia, Australia, and other nations about rebuilding a pro-family policy?" 

In a preamble introducing the Nov 15 discussion, a release on the Christian News Wire states, "While the current US administration persists in its efforts to redefine marriage and family, other nations are seeking a reaffirmation of the natural family.  Australia has just elected a conservative government and given the largest budget area to Kevin Andrews, long-time defender of the family and World Congress of Families supporter; Russia recently banned the propaganda of "nontraditional sexual relations" to minors; and across Europe and Africa, nations are concerned with life issues, shrinking populations, and the disintegration of the natural family."

According to BuzzFeed, which first reported on the room cancellation, Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk at first secured access to a Senate room for the World Congress of Families (WCF), but then withdrew the offer after he got wind of the nature of the meeting.

The WCF criticized Kirk's move, and praised Boehner for intervening on their behalf.  BuzzFeed quotes a spokesperson for Kirk as saying that the senator "doesn't affiliate with groups that discriminate." Meanwhile a spokesperson for Boehner said the House leader's intervention doesn't mean he's supportive of the WCF's views.

World Congress of Families has held meetings with Russian anti-gay activists that included organizations like the US-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Focus on the Family, ahead of a summit of so-called "traditional family" supporters in Moscow next year. 

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a statement, slamming Boehner for helping the WCF secure new meeting space for their panel discussion.

"Speaker Boehner's embrace of these ambassadors of hate is shameful and despicable," HRC president Chad Griffin says. "These individuals have supported the subhuman treatment of LGBT people around the world, and now they want to do the same here. The fact that the Speaker would welcome a panelist who praised Uganda's proposal to sentence gay people to death should shock the conscience of all Americans."

Boehner is on record as consistently opposing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, that recently made it through the US Senate, saying it was not necessary, would cost jobs and lead to frivilous lawsuits. Kirk spoke in support of ENDA when it was before the Senate.