At a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the head of a conservative legal group may have misled the committee when he said that he does not support the implementation of Russian-style antigay laws in the United States.
On Tuesday, the Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on "The State of Religious Liberty in the United States" to study the rise of "religious freedom" laws in some U.S. states, under which people of faith cannot be compelled to perform their jobs or provide goods and services if to do so would conflict with their personal beliefs.
Critics of these laws argue that they mimic the crop of antigay laws that have been passed in countries like Russia, Uganda and Nigeria, laws that criminalize same-sex relationships and outlaw the positive portrayal of anything other than heterosexual, monogamous relationships.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) asked Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, "There are certain antigay laws they have in Russia. You, I believe, have advocated for something similar to that, have you not? Do you support the Russian antigay laws?"
Staver replied, "What I am concerned about is having people of Christian, uh, Judeo-Christian beliefs be forced to participate in a ceremony or an event that celebrates something that is contrary to their religious beliefs."
"Okay," said Cohen, "so you're not in favor of the Russian antigay laws and what I read was wrong?"
"I don't know what you read," Staver said. "I haven't spoken on the Russian laws."
However, Right Wing Watch reported in January that Staver and the Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber both voiced their support for anti-LGBT laws like those in Russia, Uganda and Nigeria during an edition of their "Faith and Freedom" radio show.
Staver advocated for anti-same-sex marriage laws like those in other countries, saying, "What Nigeria has done by reaffirming marriage as between one man and one woman is what a number of countries are doing around the world. They're reaffirming marriage as one man and one woman. Russia is one of those countries recently that did that. Latin American countries have reaffirmed marriage as one man and one woman. Then other countries around the world are reaffirming marriage as one man and one woman and rejecting this radicalized homosexual agenda."
Barber agreed, "This is a very dangerous lifestyle that countries like Russia are, in addition to reestablishing and saying no, marriage is what it's always been, they're saying additionally we are going to stop this homosexual activist propaganda from corrupting children in our nation and we need to see that right here in the United States."
Watch the questionable excerpt from Staver's testimony, embedded below:
Watch video of the full hearing, embedded below: