Donald Trump has attended an event held by a listed anti-LGBT hate group – that every other Republican nominee has snubbed for more than a decade.
Mr Trump this weekend attended the ‘Values Voter Summer’ held by the Family Research Council, where he spoke amid a string of anti-LGBT activists.
The FRC is listed as an active anti-LGBT hate group by extremism watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center, with the group’s president Tony Perkins repeatedly blaming gay people for the Holocaust, claiming they will attempt another one.
Perkins also compares gays to paedophiles, insisting: “While activists like to claim that paedophilia is a completely distinct orientation from homosexuality, evidence shows a disproportionate overlap between the two. It is a homosexual problem.”
Despite former Presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and John McCain both snubbing the group’s summit previously, Trump attended on Friday.
In his speech to the group, Mr Trump turned a blind eye to their long history of stirring anti-LGBT hate sentiment, focusing on generic ‘religious liberty’.
He said: “I wanted to thank our host, Tony Perkins, for his years of leadership… Thank you. Amazing, amazing group.
Trump continued: “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.”
In his speech, Trump pledged to scrap the Johnson Amendment, which bans tax-exempt churches from directly endorsing or opposing political candidates, effectively giving a turbo-boost to the work of the FRC.
He said: “The Johnson amendment has blocked our pastors and ministers and others from speaking their minds from their own pulpits. If they want to talk about Christianity, if they want to preach, if they want to talk about politics, they’re unable to do so.
“If I become president, we are going to knock out the Johnson amendment. We are going to do that. And it’s not going to be hard.”
He also vowed to appoint more justices like the late Justice Scalia, who was known for his bitter dissents against pro-LGBT rulings. Scalia consistently opposed LGBT rights rulings on the court, from the repeal of sodomy laws right through to the equal marriage.
Trump said: “Earlier this year, we lost the great justice, Antonin Scalia.
“The next president will not only have to fill this seat, but as many as four others… and you pick the wrong people, you have a country that is no longer your country. It will be a disaster.
“We are going to put truly great people. Maybe we use Judge Scalia of the ultimate example of what we’re looking for, OK?
“I have pledged to appoint judges who uphold the Constitution, to protect your religious liberty, and apply the law as written.”
Trump also praised anti-sodomy campaigner Phyllis Schlafly.
He continued: “Our country just lost one of the great champions for the American family, Phyllis Schlafly. Great woman, really great woman. We send our thoughts and prayers to her loved ones. I will be going to her funeral tomorrow in St. Louis.
“Phyllis fought very hard to the very end for a free and prosperous America.
“She understood that, to be truly united as a country, we can’t simply turn to government or to politicians. The bedrock of our unity is the realisation that we are all brothers and sisters created by the same God. Phyllis understood that. Phyllis understood that.”
Trump has faced questions about his ties to Perkins in the past.
Earlier this year, when Trump was mocked for misquoting the Bible in a speech, he revealed it had been co-written by Mr Perkins.
He later made a $100,000 ‘donation’ to Perkins’ church – raising serious questions about financial conduct.