A Texas religious-righter is providing a case study in trying to become a leading voice for a cause that history is leaving behind. Jonathan Saenz, the lawyer/lobbyist who heads up Texas Values, has clearly decided that sounding like a raving hate-monger will make him a big boy among anti-gay extremists.
As Media Matters reported on Tuesday, Saenz is now arguing that supporters of LGBT equality are out to imprison anyone who opposes them. Speaking on a right-wing radio program last week, Saenz even agreed with the show’s host that supporters of state and local laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations want to see opponents thrown into into concentration camps. Says Saenz:
That’s right, that’s right. You know, they tried to do something like that here in Texas. … But I mean, this is what they want. I mean, there’s no question. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen them try to do it with legislation here in Texas at the state level. It is a goal of theirs to put people in jail that disagree with homosexual marriage, without question — or the homosexual lifestyle.
That kind of twisted, hyperbolic rhetoric is nothing new from Saenz. Earlier this month Media Matters offered a longer report on Saenz’s emergence as a strident opponent of Houston’s new Equal Rights Ordinance. The article also noted Saenz’s opposition to policies that protect gay students from bullying and his support for sodomy laws and for gay “cure” therapy.
Saenz responded on Facebook, calling the folks at Media Matters “enemies of freedom” and insisting that “I take my cues from my Texas ancestors and the Bible.” He also used the Media Matters report in a ridiculous fundraising appeal for Texas Values:
“The enemies of faith, family, and freedom have canceled their vacations and geared up for battle. Their attacks grow more frequent and more vicious by the day! Earlier this month, I had the dubious honor of being targeted by the left-wing, George Soros-funded ‘Media Matters’ in one of its trademark smear jobs. Their national story named me an ‘anti-gay extremist’ and viciously attacked our organization. They want to silence not just our voice, but your voice as well. Being in the cross-hairs of such a notorious attack dog puts us on a select list I’m humbled to join.”
Saenz is currently pushing a city referendum to overturn the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a measure Saenz derisively calls “the Transexual bathroom law.” Apparently, he thinks LGBT people are all sexual predators looking to invade public restrooms to molest children. Clearly, truth is no obstacle here. Last summer PolitiFact Texas pointed out that similar claims by Saenz that San Antonio’s Nondiscrimination Ordinance would allow male sexual predators to go into women’s restrooms were false.
With most Americans now embracing equal rights — including marriage equality — for LGBT people, Saenz’s anti-gay obsession has left him sounding increasingly unhinged. But it has also helped him stand out among the state’s most hateful and divisive extremists on the right.