We’ve had plenty of opportunities to familiarize ourselves with the American Family Association (AFA) here, but in any case: the AFA is a fundamentalist homophobic hate group. Ed Vitagliano is its Executive Vice-President and news editor for the AFA Journal, and was formerly its “research director” (“research” for the AFA doesn’t require research qualifications and it is probably an advantage not to have them). He is, in other words, a pretty significant figure on the religious right. As research director for the AFA, Vitagliano determined for instance that gay men are naturally uncivilized: the reason “promiscuity in the male homosexual community” is rampant is because gay men can never be civilized if they don’t marry women, as “there is no civilizing influence in their lives,” cf. “God’s plan” for women. In fact, Vitagliano doesn’t really believe in women’s agency at all, claiming for instance that women voted for Obama only because George Clooney told them to.
In general, homosexuality is a symptom of a society in decline: “the homosexual movement has had such great success because Americans have become idolatrous and arrogantly self-indulgent. Straight America has embraced homosexuality because straight Americans first embraced the sexual revolution for the satisfaction of their own perverse sexual appetites. Thus homosexuality often becomes the barometer of a culture rotting out from the inside.” And it’s a dire warning sign, for “by the time a culture accepts idolatry, abortion and homosexuality, it is already ripe for the devastation wrought by God’s wrath.” The downward spiral apparently started with the false idea of a separation between church and state and the idea of a “secular” nation, which led to the “sexual revolution” and inevitably to a situation where “[t]he country is no longer being run by ‘We the People.’ The country is being run by activist federal judges [i.e. judges who issue rulings Vitagliano doesn’t like], it is being run by a fairly lawless executive branch.” Of course, the majority of Americans currently support marriage equality, so by “the People” in “We the People”, Vitagliano means the people whose religious views agree with his – those are the people that count. To avoid the “downward death spiral” that will incite divine wrath, pushing gays “back into the closet (if that were possible)” is, however, not “enough to forestall judgment;” rather, we must go further and drive out the “underlying wickedness that permeated the entire culture.”
Vitagliano has, of course, also claimed that marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples will ultimately lead to not just the legalization of polygamy but also legal approval of marriages to buildings, cars and dogs (he doesn’t really have a penchant for those fine distinctions), but that’s really neither here nor there: what he cares about is gay marriage. And for the record, Vitagliano isn’t only opposed to gay marriage, but has also claimed that it is necessary governments to observe “the notion of law and morality inherent in the Judeo-Christian worldview” and has therefore praised sodomy laws as deriving “from an older recognition of an orderly natural world, reflecting an intelligent design and, thus, purpose within nature, called natural law.” (What the AFA official position on sodomy laws is at present is not always clear).
Weighing in on popular culture, Vitagliano is adamant that “it is not Disney’s place to assume the role of parent deciding when to confront children with alternative lifestyles … I’m not saying it’s wrong for children to know gays and lesbians exist, only that parents should be the ones to tell them. Disney should not circumvent parents on this matter.” He also urged producers to think of the children™ back in 2005, in relation to the Simpsons episode “There’s something about marrying”; according to Vitagliano, the episode presented same-sex marriage in a way that was “very one-sided”, which, as responses go, is on the feebler end. And when Christian singer Vicky Beeching came out as a lesbian, Vitagliano was confused: “I think most men would think that Vicky was a very pretty lady,” he wrote, which “makes the subject of sexual orientation rather difficult to understand at times.” He has some problems with Archie comics, too.
In 2013, he wrote his own movie, Accidental Activist, about a conservative who gets into conflicts after he signs a petition against same-sex marriage. The movie was meant to express Vitagliano’s sadness that gay people, even “the ordinary homosexual non-activist,” may for some reason not want to maintain a friendship with someone who opposes his or her right to marry: “I don’t know how many homosexuals would want to be friends with a Christian who signs what we would call a pro-marriage petition.” The goal of the movie was accordingly for gay people to “see that in the culture war, Christians are victims as much as they see themselves as victims.” At least it’s a nice expression of the fundie religious persecution delusion: If I consistently deny you your autonomy, or support those who would, and you don’t want to be my friend as a result, then I am as much a victim as you.
In fact, Vitagliano is skeptical of the idea that gay couples are even capable of love. (He doesn’t really believe in homosexuals, either, for that matter.) He does, however, think that there is a “tendency for gay activists to want basically the whole world to be gay.” Yes, he is just expressing whatever negative property his mind associates with homosexuality at any given time; coherence, facts or evidence has nothing to do with it.
Fortunately, he also offers some advice to parents on how to deal with having a child who is gay: “The standard Paul lays out seems to recognize a painful reality: having unbelievers in the home causes no small amount of chaos. It would be difficult for a man to help church members if he was constantly at war in his own home.” Fortunately, prayer might help; while Vitagliano ostensibly knows many people who have “prayed endlessly for God to remove their same-sex attractions – to no avail,” that is because they simply didn’t try hard enough; they didn’t call upon the power of God “to gain mastery over [their] impulses,” citing “the reality of ‘ex-gay’ people” as proof that “there are clearly many who have left the lifestyle.”
As suggested above, the threat to America these days doesn’t stem from gay rights alone, but from the deconstruction of traditional gender roles. The fact that the boy scouts have begun accepting girls is satanic, and reflects “the ongoing war against the Judeo-Christian worldview, the way God has established mankind, male and female” (he wasn’t very happy when they started accepting gay members either, claiming that tolerance is “a pagan sexual ethic rooted in moral relativism with the taproot deeply embedded in Darwinian evolution”) Meanwhile, teaching students about gender identity issues is “demonic” (which may or may not be different from “satanic”): “It’s part of the war against God. God made us male and female, and the progressive, secular left hates God – so they hate his order in biology.”
Vitagliano has also weighed in on the alleged repression of creationists and creationism in scientific institutions, i.e. that scientists don’t take seriously the religiously motivated pseudoscience that Vitagliano is sympathetic to, just because it is silly.
Diagnosis: Silly, evil, bigoted, nonsensical hatemonger. But he is quite influential. And he bites. Stay well away.