October 9, 2011; Source: LGBTQ Nation | Republican presidential hopefuls were at this past weekend’s Values Voters Summit addressing socially conservative constituents whose support they are all vying for. Despite being called a cult member by a prominent Baptist and Rick Perry supporter, Mitt Romney addressed the crowd and called for civility. By the end of the weekend, Ron Paul won the religious voters’ straw poll followed by Herman Cain.

Last Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) released a report on the Family Research Council (FRC) and the American Family Association (AFA) just in time for the summit. Entitled “The Anti-Gay Lobby: The Family Research Council, the American Family Association and the Demonization of LGBT People,” the document exposes the anti-gay agenda of FRC and AFA; debunks myths propagated by anti-gay activists which expressly “demonizes” the LGBT community; and presents alarming statistics on violent hate crimes against LGBT people spurred by the defamation and mischaracterization of the minority group.

SPLC began listing FRC and AFA, which it considers “among the most powerful groups on the American religious right,” as hate groups last year, based on the organizations’ activities targeting the LGBT community.  SPLC points out that the conservative groups are “the chief purveyors of lies about the LGBT people” which have resulted in discrimination and violence against LGBT individuals.

“LGBT people are now, by far, the group most victimized by violent hate crimes in America,” said Mark Potok, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project, which compiles statistics and information on hate groups operating in the United States.

There is no denying that FRC and AFA are two of the most influential conservative advocacy groups in the United States – they are the ones behind the Values Voters Summit, a required stop for hopefuls in the GOP presidential primary race.

“Public figures should not lend their names to groups that vilify or spread lies about them (LGBT people),” argued Potok. He said that politicians “who know that the claims made by FRC and AFA are false, but who take no action, make these outrageous lies seem legitimate,” referring to GOP presidential candidates, Republican leaders, and other notables who graced the gathering.

Come general elections time, will the Republican presidential candidate be called out for associating with hate groups or will he or she get a pass since FRC and AFA are only vilifying gays? – Erwin de Leon