President of Alaska Family Council/Action Jim Minnery is an interesting cat.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, he’s still afforded influence by many in the state, preaching a false notion that there was a moment in time — somewhere back in nineteen fifty-never — where everything was perfect, everyone got along, and God baked us all apple pies. To get society back to that neverland, his organization demands that elected officials promote far right socially conservative policies more in tune with Russian autocracy than American republicanism. But he never goes away and, when views shift away from his suggestions — like constitutional amendments defining “traditional” marriage, establishing fetal personhood, and using state funds to pay for religious schools — his repetitive and outdated dogma only gets louder and more absurd.
Though he’s been fighting common decency and basic logic for decades, I was introduced to Minnery in 2009, when he joined with ABT Reverend Jerry Prevo to stop a municipal anti-discrimination bill. Ordinance 64 would have changed the law so that residents of Alaska’s largest city could not be fired, denied housing, or refused credit for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Church services were rerouted to the assembly chambers at the Loussac Library. Religious summer camp-goers materialized to testify. An entire summer of testimony proceeded as Minnery and Prevo coordinated a sea of red-shirted opposition. When the Assembly passed the measure anyway, Minnery worked to ensure Mayor Dan Sullivan vetoed it.
In 2012, he strayed further, leading the “Protect Your Rights” campaign against a ballot proposition with the same intent. “Protect Your Rights” ran offensive and baseless advertisements — personally endorsed by Minnery — that conflated transvestites with transgender Alaskans, and falsely asserted that anti-discrimination laws would allow crudely depicted cartoon men in dresses to work at daycare facilities. (Hide your kids, hide your wife.) The ad claimed that, if the measure passed, employers could be imprisoned for discriminating against transvestites, which was patently false. He twisted the words of then-Anchorage Daily News columnist Julia O’Malley, who said she had never personally been discriminated against, and used it as justification that anti-discrimination laws were unnecessary.
That year’s botched municipal election ended with the municipal clerk resigning and the deputy-clerk getting fired after massive ballot shortages. On election day, Minnery sent a blast email instructing unregistered voters to rush to the polls; that Anchorage permitted same day registration. Which it didn’t. Which he knew. Retired Judge Dan Hensley was hired to investigate the debacle and found that Minnery’s involvement had its “desired effect” of exacerbating election problems. The measure failed.
(The Protect Your Rights’ campaign website now forwards to an erotic anime site called Pink Pineapple. Because justice.)
Last year, Minnery teamed up again with Prevo to object to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to open membership to LGBT scouts. Prevo closed the doors of his church to the local Boy Scout Troop 1316 and Cub Scout Pack 316 after hosting them for several years. Alaska Family Council board member Greg Schmidt warned readers about the “hyper-sexualization” of the boy scouts, and the threat posed by a “well-coached, militant activist, with an LGBT agenda[.]”
Minnery sent out an email encouraging parents “who will not depart from the principles of God, Flag, and Country” to enroll their children in “Christ-centered programs for boys.”
In May of this year, with courts across the country striking down marriage bans, Minnery hosted “LGBTQ&A” town hall meetings in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley. The events were advertised as “discussions on Christian engagement with the LGBTQ community,” but actually served as a Trojan Horse to preach conversion therapy, a thoroughly debunked and harmful practice criticized by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants, anybody in their right mind, and most inanimate objects.
When Alaska’s marriage ban fell on October 13th, Minnery railed against the (at the time) 57 judges, two public votes, and nine state legislatures that disagreed with his sole, singular, one-person religious view on marriage. He was totally cool with the 6th Circuit upholding the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. But all the others were “activist courts.”
He’s going to have a rough day when he finally wakes up to the fact that he’s the activist.
Minnery said that debating the rightfulness of marriage equality was “like debating gravity,” which, coincidentally, the Catholic Church didn’t officially get right until 1992. So, there’s that.
Echoing an epically dim 2010 rant from conservative mouth Dan Fagan (totally worth clicking; there are horses involved), Minnery asked in a November 6 email:
Under what logical rationale would the Courts now deny other “evolving” forms of marriage ? Three wives for one husband ? Marrying your aunt or niece or brother ? Group marriage involving any number of couples and individuals with various sexual orientations ? Once you eliminate sexual complementarity from the marriage equation, is there any reason to keep other cornerstones we’ve all taken for granted for generations including exclusivity, permanence and monogamy?
On all accounts: Derp.
But for all the political shenanigans, outright lies, and bigotry that line Jim Minnery’s resume, one thing can be said about him: He’s consistent. Unwavering, even. Like an ostrich who happened to dip its head down as the cement was poured. For half a decade, he has solidly, publicly, and loudly stood behind his position that personal and religious freedoms are the priority which government and citizens are bound by duty to protect. No interference should ever sacrifice the right one has to his or her beliefs. Not even if irreparable harm is done to other citizens in the process. That is the cost of living in a free society.
And then, all of a sudden, Alaska decided it wanted to spark up. On November 4, voters cast their ballots to legalize recreational marijuana.
This evidently startled Mr. Minnery.
On Monday, he sent a blast email criticizing the move and threatening its effects. He said that Alaskans would likely change their minds when the “ill effects of legalization” started showing up in our schools and workplaces (like transvestites). And then he said this:
Alaskans are right to resist laws that are overly intrusive, but most of us understand that some limits on personal freedom can be necessary to protect the common good of society. There are such things as speed limits, public nuisance laws, anti-trust laws, etc. – all of which recognize that one person’s notion of “freedom” can be a source of oppression or even danger to someone else. True freedom can flourish only under a system of ordered liberty, not under anarchy. [emphasis in original]
You know, Jim, a lot of us have been saying that exact thing for a long time. Because that logic applies to other stuff too.