Did NOM President Help Shape Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws?
The president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group bent on outlawing same-sex marriage, is being criticized for allegedly taking a secret trip to Russia in June to talk to officials about anti-gay laws, Right Wing Watch reports.
NOM President Brain Brown said he met with lawmakers from the Russian Duma in Moscow this summer to work on laws that would ban LGBT foreigners from adopting Russian children, according to a report by RWW.
"On June 13, 2013, just days after the Russian Duma passed laws banning on gay 'propaganda' and actions that 'offend religious feelings,' a delegation of five French Catholic anti-gay activists --at least one with ties to the far-right Front National party -- traveled to Moscow at the invitation of the Duma committee on family, women and children to discuss, among other issues, Russia's plans to tighten its ban on adoption by same-sex couples abroad," RWW writes.
"Joining them was one of the most well-known figures in the American anti-gay movement, National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown. Brown had worked closely with the French anti-gay movement in its protests of the country's marriage equality law, traveling to Paris to demonstrate against the law and signing onto an email to members of the Collectif Famille Mariage, one of the most prominent groups working to oppose marriage equality in France," the report reads.
The report goes on to say that NOM never informed the public about Brown's trip -- but that hasn't stopped the president from coming under fire by LGBT activists, like Fred Karger, President of Rights Equal Rights. Karger says Brown has violated the Logan Act, a federal statue that says it's a crime for a U.S. citizen to work with foreign governments against the interest of the U.S. or without authorization, the Huffington Post writes.
Karger penned a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Attorney General of the United State Eric H. Holder Jr., which he also posted to Facebook, and said:
"The presentations by NOM's Brian Brown were apparently very effective. Five days later, the Duma passed a ban on the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples and by single people living in countries that allow marriage equality.
Immediately after Mr. Brown's meetings and testimony in the Russian capital, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a severe crackdown on LGBT rights, affecting all LGBT visitors to Russia to include Americans.
If Mr. Brown did travel to Moscow with French religious leaders with the express intention of furthering discrimination against LGBT Russians and all LGBT travelers to Russia, this could be in direct conflict with current United States laws."
The Human Rights Campaign also spoke out against Brown's trip, with the organization's president Chad Griffin, saying:
"This goes well beyond marriage," said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. "Apparently NOM is expanding its portfolio to include the international persecution of LGBT people. We knew that Brian Brown had it out for gay people in America, but it's now become clear that he's hell-bent on ruining the lives of gays and lesbians worldwide."
In June, after Brown's visit, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a measure that bans giving children any information about the LGBT community, effectively outlawing gay pride parades and similar events. The ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" is the Russian government trying to promote traditional Russian values over Western liberalism, the Associated Press reports.
In July Putin signed another bill that dramatically limits the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples from other countries.