On 12 September 2016, the LGBT-focused blog PinkNews reported that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump attended an event held by “a listed anti-LGBT hate group – that every other Republican nominee has snubbed for more than a decade.”
While it is true that the Family Research Council, which hosts the annual Values Voter summit, has been listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-LGBT “extremist” group, the claim that the event was “snubbed” by a more than a decade’s worth of Republican presidential candidates is unsupported. As evangelical Christians remain a key voting bloc for the party, the Values Voter summit is a key event for Republican lawmakers. Further, the summit was launched in 2006, and has thus (as of the 2016 presidential elections) existed no longer than a decade.
The 2016 summit, held between September 9 and September 11, was attended by Trump and also Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus.
In 2012, Republican nominee Mitt Romney addressed the summit by video-recorded message and his running mate, Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, spoke in person. Romney personally attended and spoke in 2011, though he was not a candidate at the time. In 2008, Arizona Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin, were invited but didn’t attend the summit. It is unclear why they did not attend, but McCain spoke at the event in 2007.
In the course of the 2016 event, Trump gave his stump speech, praising FRC president Tony Perkins, blasting his rival Democrat, Hillary Clinton, and courting evangelical voters:
So let me say this right up front: A Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended, like you’ve never seen before. Believe me. I believe it. And you believe it. And you know it. You know it. And that includes religious liberty – remember, remember. I recently had a chance to visit a church in Detroit, Great Faith Ministries International. Stand up if you’re member. That’s good. That was a great – that was an amazing experience. And the bishop, what a great guy.
While the Family Research Council unquestionably supports baseless and bigoted claims about the LGBT community with no basis in scientific or statistical fact (such as the idea that gay men are more likely to be pedophiles), Republican politicians have been fixtures at the annual summit.
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