Republican Kevin Smith served as executive director of anti-LGBTQ Cornerstone Policy Research for three years.
Republican Kevin Smith is campaigning for his party’s nomination in the 2022 general election against incumbent U.S. Democratic Senator from New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan, as longtime local city manager and what his campaign website calls “a conservative kitchen table with local New Hampshire values. The website fails to mention that 11 years ago, Smith led the charge to stop public schools from recognizing and affirming the existence of LGBTQ people.
From 2009 to 2011, Smith served as executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research and its lobbying arm Cornerstone Action. Affiliated with James Dobson’s religious-right empire, Cornerstone has been one of New Hampshire’s leading anti-LGBTQ organizations for decades.
During his tenure at the helm, the New Hampshire Union leader reported, Smith lobbied to keep the “pro-gay” curriculum out of New Hampshire public schools. In February 2010, the newspaper reported on February 14, he led opposition to the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes in an anti-bullying proposal, which Cornerstone called a “bill to mandate gay and transgender material in the school curriculum” and said it was being used “as a tool for political activists to inject their sexualized agenda into the classroom”.
In June of that year, according to a publication titled “Parents beware: ‘Anti-bullying’ initiatives are gay activists’ latest tools of choice for faufiling homosexuality sheets intoclasses”, published by the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family , Smith was. quoted as saying: “Anti-bullying policies in themselves are not bad things, but parents need to be aware that they are being co-opted by these political activists who are using them as a way to inject their own agenda into the ‘public school curriculum.’
Smith said “No one is saying that children who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender shouldn’t be protected. They should be protected like all other students are protected. But we need to make sure that these anti- -bullying does not translate into discussion of gay issues in class.”
In June 2009, Smith had lobbied his local school board in Litchfield, New Hampshire, to remove material from its high school curriculum that he did not believe had “good wholesome values”, including including “I Like Guys” by David Sedaris. about his experiences as a gay teenager.
“We’re not Cambridge, Mass., or LA, or even Hanover,” he told the school committee. The union leader reported on June 18, 2009, that Smith was considering taking legal action over the matter.
Republican lawmakers in Florida and across the country are now using a similar strategy, pushing “Don’t Say Gay” bills on teachers and bar school staff to the point of mentioning to children that certain people and families are LGBTQ.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill barring elementary educators from teaching “sexual orientation or gender identity” before fourth grade in a way that “is not appropriate for the age or development of the students in accordance with state standards.
Cornerstone’s website during Smith’s tenure included links promoting harmful “conversion therapy” that supposedly could change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The now-deleted “gay issues” section contained links to groups including Exodus International, which shut down in 2013 and apologized to the LGBTQ community for “years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole”.
Two years after New Hampshire became one of the first states to pass marriage equality into law, Smith led an unsuccessful effort in 2011 to repeal it. He promised to push every 2012 presidential candidate to sign a “commitment sheet for candidates indicating whether they support marriage being between one man and one woman only.”
“We’ll be asking all candidates to sign this pledge, and I think it will most definitely be in the news if some of them don’t,” Smith said.
A spokesperson for Smith did not immediately respond to an inquiry into the story.
Smith is one of several Republicans hoping to run in November.
Hassan, who has always voted for LGBTQ rights, received the Human Rights Campaign endorsement on Tuesday. The group’s interim president, Joni Madison, hailed the first-term incumbent as “a passionate and trusted ally to the LGBTQ+ community.”
In the endorsing press release, the pro-equality organization noted that during his tenure at Cornerstone, Smith called marriage equality “radical social engineering” and being gay “a lifestyle choice.” . He also noted that he had previously lobbied for the National Organization for Marriage, a national group leading the fight to prevent same-sex couples from having the freedom to marry.
In recent weeks, Smith has repeatedly attacked Hassan – who has a near-perfect attendance record – as an “absent senator”. But a review of Smith’s own record during his two years as New Hampshire state legislator found he missed 61% of the floor votes in 1998.
Published with permission of the American Independent Foundation.