It was a gay activist's dream come true: Will Perkins, leader of the anti-gay-rights Amendment 2 campaign, being arrested in the middle of a speech, handcuffed and hustled off stage for speaking ill of homosexuals.
Well, dream on. Perkins himself staged the "arrest" during an appearance in late August at a national religious-right conference in Vail. He did it to dramatize what he and other members of Colorado for Family Values say is a threat to free speech by the "militant homosexual movement."
Letting his hair down in front of a crowd of fellow believers attending the fifth annual Steeling the Mind of America conference, Perkins showed that the spirit behind Amendment 2 is far from dead. A videotape of the event obtained by Westword shows that he called for the impeachment of the six U.S. Supreme Court justices who last fall struck down Amendment 2 as unconstitutional.
The conference featured an array of speakers on topics including "Biblical UFOs and the Coming Deception," "Dark Secrets of the United Nations" and "50 Scientific Reasons Evolution Is Wrong!" Perkins, however, was there for some frank talk about sex.
The Colorado Springs Chrysler-Plymouth dealer, pointing proudly to his Rush Limbaugh tie, called homosexual contact "the watershed issue here in America today."
He described how he and four other people (including the pastor of Focus on the Family leader James Dobson's church) started CFV in 1991 in response to municipal ordinances that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Perkins's group, aided by a last-minute influx of money from Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, blitzed Colorado with the message that the ordinances gave "special rights" to gays. In a surprise to pundits, CFV's Amendment 2, aimed at outlawing such ordinances, was approved by voters in 1992.
Perkins insisted throughout the campaign that the issue was simply one of "special rights." But while speaking to the audience of devout Christians in Vail, he dropped the secular pose, quoting frequently from the Bible and condemning "homosexual contact." Citing a passage in 1 Corinthians that lumps together "homosexual offenders" with adulterers, thieves, slanderers and swindlers, he teased the crowd by defining swindlers as "Toyota dealers." Then he got serious, declaring, "There's only one group of people who protest out of all those--those who promote homosexual contact. You don't find adulterers or fornicators or thieves demanding to be ordained."
"Folks," he added, "they need to know the Gospel. See, they need Jesus Christ, just like everybody else. He'll work with them on their conduct."
As for the conduct of the U.S. Supreme Court, which negated Perkins's hard work, he offered another solution: impeachment. "Reason didn't play a part in this decision," he said of the court's 6-3 ruling. Perkins pointed to Justice Antonin Scalia's dissenting opinion that the decision was "an act of political will." CFV's legal advisors seriously considered impeachment if they were to lose, and Perkins mentioned it publicly shortly after the decision.
"The idea of impeaching a Supreme Court justice is so far out that people couldn't grasp it," he said. "I was the only one at the time talking about it."
His suggestion brought tepid applause from the audience in Vail, but Perkins was just warming up. He noted that when he started on the issue of homosexuality, he didn't even know what the term "sexual orientation" meant. Those days are past, judging by his patter.
"Too many people," he said, "have bought into the idea that homosexuality, as they call it, is genetic, that there isn't anything they can do about it. I'm here to tell you that there are only two flavors of mankind: male and female. There is no such thing as a homosexual. I have a list here of 28 ways that people get sexual satisfaction. Well, if it isn't heterosexual, then it's an aberration."
He didn't go into the list in detail, but he did launch a blistering attack on same-sex marriages, which he compared to having sex with dogs.
"Sure, it's unfair not to let a man marry a man," Perkins said. "Or, don't forget about old Bowser. The politically correct term for bestiality these days is 'zoophilia.'"
Just when things were getting juicy, a man walked up to the podium, muttered something about "hate-crime laws" and appeared to place Perkins under arrest. Amid scattered shouts from the audience, the man handcuffed Perkins and escorted him off the stage.
Perkins's aide, Mark Olsen, let the crowd buzz for a few seconds before stepping to the microphone and admitting that the "arrest" was a "dramatization."
"If we don't do anything about the militant homosexual movement," Olsen said, "these kinds of things may be happening. There is a vicious and determined campaign against anyone who disagrees with homosexuality."
Olsen has been the chief pamphleteer for CFV for seven years, during which the group's newsletter continually has attacked homosexuals and homosexual behavior. Apparently, the same themes are continued in Olsen's new novel Refuge, which portrays the heroic struggle of a pastor persecuted for preaching against homosexuality.
The last part of the Perkins-Olsen show was devoted to a sales pitch for Olsen's book.
"This is one of the most important novels in print in America today," Olsen said. "A lot of people are starting to tune out. Well, Jesus used stories to bring across the lessons that matter the most."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Olsen told the crowd that in his book, two rows of his protagonist's church fill up one Sunday with people "dressed for war, with pierced noses and lips and T-shirts with gay slogans on them." They start disrupting the sermon.
Olsen continued from his novel: "By the time I finished reading, condoms were flying across the sanctuary. One girl yanked up her tank top and exposed herself."
For the rest, you'll have to buy the book.
Visit www.westword.com to read related Westword stories.