The president of Family Research Council blasted a civil rights group Thursday for their "reckless rhetoric" in the wake of Wednesday's shooting at their downtown D.C. headquarters.
Floyd Lee Corkins II is accused of shooting a security guard in the arm in the lobby of the building. Corkins -- whose parents said he strongly supported gay rights and who recently been volunteering at a D.C. community center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people -- had a backpack full of 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches and a box of ammunition when he said words to the effect of “I don't like your politics” and shot Leo Johnson, authorities said.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the shooting was sparked by critics of his organization.
While blaming Corkins, 28, for the shooting, Perkins also faulted the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization that tracks and litigates against hate groups. The law center labeled the council a hate group in 2010 for what it called the organization's anti-gay stance.
“Corkins was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center that have been reckless in labeling organization hate groups because they disagree with them on public policy,” Perkins said.
Some of those organizations have expressed outrage over the shooting.
“But I would ask them to go a step further and to join us in calling for an end to the reckless rhetoric that I believe led to yesterday’s incident,” he said.
The Southern Poverty Law Center shot back, using some of Perkins own statements in which he called homosexuality a crime and called for the deportation of homosexuals from the United States. Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Fellow Mark Potok called on Perkins to stop the demonizing and “affirm the dignity of all people.”
The Family Research Council has steadfastly supported the president of Chick-fil-A and his staunch opposition to same-sex marriage, a stance that has placed the fast-food chain at the center of a hot-button national cultural debate.
The organization strongly opposes gay marriage and abortion and says it advocates “faith, family and freedom in public policy and public opinion.” The conservative group maintains a powerful lobbying presence, testifying before Congress and reviewing legislation.
Corkins, of Herndon, Va., has been ordered held without bond.
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