Progressive groups are questioning Ann Romney's scheduled appearance at the upcoming Values Voter Summit, an event hosted by organizations they say demonize the LGBT community.
"The Romney campaign must have its reasons, but it sure seems like an odd way to deploy Ann Romney," Josh Glasstetter of RightWingWatch said. "No one really expected Mitt Romney to show for the event – too radical, too close to the election. That’s why, when the conference schedule was recently posted, it was a shock to see not only 'Romney' on the lineup, but Ann Romney."
Mitt Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), is also scheduled to speak at the event.
The high-profile political conference in Washington, D.C. is organized by the Family Research Council and sponsored by Christian conservative groups like the American Family Association. The annual Values Voter Summit has attracted a wide swath of conservatives since it first began in 2006.
Speakers at the conference this year include Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney, TV and radio host Glenn Beck and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), among others.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which considers the Family Research Council and American Family Association to be anti-LGBT hate groups, has urged public officials to avoid the conference.
"The FRC is far outside the mainstream," a letter sent to public officials said (PDF). "It has engaged in repeated, groundless demonization – portraying LGBT people as sick, vile, incestuous, violent, perverted, and a danger to the nation. One of its officials has gone so far as to say that homosexuality should be criminalized."
"The FRC's extremism is vividly illustrated," the letter added, "by the fact that it has invited the American Family Association (AFA) to co-sponsor the Summit at which you have been invited to speak. Here is what Bryan Fischer, the AFA's Director of Issue Analysis, wrote in 2010: 'Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and 6 million dead Jews.'"