Perkins criticizes law center

Long at odds with the Southern Poverty Law Center, former state Rep. Tony Perkins said Tuesday he now is in a stronger position to expose the “radical, left wing group” to local law enforcement.

Gov. Bobby Jindal appointed Perkins to the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Criminal Justice, which helps coordinate programs relating to the police, courts and corrections.

Perkins is president of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

News of the appointment, which was made in April and later confirmed by the state Senate, recently exploded on the Internet.

The Southern Poverty Law Center leveled charges last week that Perkins demonizes and smears gays and lesbians, skipped meetings when he served on the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family and got his latest appointment because he offers a politically ambitious governor access to religious-right voters.

Jindal stayed out of the dispute, saying Tuesday in a prepared statement: “I am confident that Tony will work diligently to fulfill the mission of the board and serve the people of Louisiana well.”

The Family Research Council is a nonprofit organization that reviews and researches public policy from a Christian worldview. The Southern Poverty Law Center is an Alabama-based group that monitors, publicizes and sometimes sues extremist groups.

Perkins said the Southern Poverty Law Center has a cozy relationship with the U.S. Department of Justice and leverages that connection to intimidate local school boards into adopting pro-homosexuality policies. He said the center uses similar tactics with local law enforcement.

“I know a lot about the Southern Poverty Law Center, and I’m sure it’s not comforting for them to know that I can share that information with the law enforcement community,” Perkins said. “This is a very dangerous group.”

Perkins said he will expose the center although he refused to detail how he plans to do so.

“We are not advocating that homosexuality be illegal. What we have advocated is that marriage should be preserved in our laws as the union between man and woman, the same as the voters have in Louisiana,” he said. “Is that vicious? I don’t think so.”

Perkins added the commission does not write laws.

The only thing he can do, he said, is interact with local law enforcement.

Josh Glasstetter, campaign director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said his organization distributes information about bullying and advocates for tolerance.

He said the center is trying to combat a spate of suicides involving gay and lesbian youths.

“Tony Perkins and his group go about lying about gays and lesbians. Basically, and I’m not even exaggerating, (they’re) telling people that gays are pedophiles and predators,” Glasstetter said.

Bruce Parker, coalition manager for Equality Louisiana, said he does not understand why the governor appointed Perkins. Equality Louisiana is a statewide coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups.

Parker said the law enforcement commission meets in Louisiana while Perkins works in Washington, D.C.

“The man is not an expert on law enforcement, he’s not in Louisiana regularly and he’s the leader of a recognized hate group,” Parker said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and Perkins have clashed in the past. Last year, Perkins blamed the center for the shooting of a Family Research Council employee.

Carrying 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches and 50 rounds of ammunition, Virginia resident Floyd Corkins allegedly shot an unarmed building operations manager and security guard in the arm at the Family Research Council’s headquarters.

Some Chick-fil-A owners have donated funds to the FRC and many other organizations that lobby against gay marriage and other issues. The Southern Poverty Law Center listed the FRC on a hate map for anti-gay activities and policies.

Perkins accused the center Tuesday of building a website used by a terrorist to develop his council as a target. Glasstetter said the center never listed the FRC’s address and isn’t responsible for the actions of an obviously disturbed man.

The Southern Poverty Law Center contends Perkins has issues that make him unfit for serving on the law enforcement commission, including his chronic absence from meetings after Jindal named him to the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family in 2008.

Glasstetter said the latest appointment serves Jindal and Perkins well if Jindal runs for president and Perkins runs for the U.S. Senate.

Perkins said he did not attend Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family meetings because the schedule was not published far enough in advance to accommodate his calendar, which he said is planned six months ahead of time.

Perkins said he already attended one law enforcement commission meeting and will work future meetings into his schedule.

As for a future political run, Perkins said he is not ruling out anything. He said the commission appointment came about because Louisiana is his home and Washington is his workplace.

“Is there anything wrong with helping the governor? Is there something wrong with the governor helping me?” he said. “Bobby has been my friend since I was in the Legislature.”