The Center for Family and Human Rights, known as C-FAM, serves as personal platform for hate-merchant Austin Ruse and advises the Trump administration’s attacks on women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights at the international level.

Summary Extremism Key Players Influence


The Center for Family and Human Rights, known as C-FAM, was founded in 1997 as an apparent “front” organization for the scandal-ridden group Human Life International. However, the group largely functions as a personal soapbox for C-FAM President Austin Ruse to spew hatred and lies. Ruse spreads white supremacy, anti-LGBTQIA+ hate, and anti-woman lies through C-FAM’s platform. C-FAM has influence over the United Nation’s approach to human rights, which only grew under the Trump administration: Ruse advised Trump’s 2016 campaign, and C-FAM was rewarded with direct access to the State Department under the Trump administration. The State Department named C-FAM an emissary to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and has provided the United States’ UN representatives with talking points meant to undermine women and LGBTQIA+ persons’ rights internationally. Concerningly, C-FAM pushed the Trump-era State Department to ally with autocratic regimes in an attempt to restrict women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights at the UN.


C-FAM was founded as a “front organization” for extremist group Human Life International (HLI)

Human Life International founded C-FAM, originally called Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, in 1997 as an apparent “front organization” after HLI was “plagued by corruption scandals and ostracized by the UN.” “C-FAM was founded in 1997 by Human Life International, which had been plagued by corruption scandals and ostracized by the UN, and which had come under fire for anti-Semitic statements made by its founder, Paul Marx. C-FAM appears to have been a kind of front for HLI. The minutes of C-FAM’s first meeting, obtained by the group Catholics for Choice, said ‘Not public knowledge that HLI is funding office. Use discretion. Initially state that we are supported by multitudes of individuals/organizations. Don’t hide the fact that HLI is funder—just don’t volunteer that fact to uncertain/non-friendly persons.’ [Daily Beast, 7/03/16]

  • HLI opposes abortion in all instances, even when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, the doctor should still avoid abortion. “Regarding abortion in cases of incest, rape or the endangering of a woman’s life, HLI clearly states that ‘there can never be any justification … even in so-called ‘hard cases’ (rape or incest). In the rare instance where the life of the mother is threatened, a doctor must try to save the life of both mother and child.’” [Catholics For Choice Report, Page 17, Accessed 4/02/19]
  • HLI claimed that abortion in the case of incest enables further incestuous abuse.  “Additionally, abortion is the ideal cover-up for incest: there have been many instances of abusers taking underage victims to abortion clinics, almost all of whom have a “no questions asked” policy, leaving the abuser free to commit his crimes again and again. Planned Parenthood’s willingness to ignore law and justice in order to forward abortion by showing ostensibly underage and pregnant girls how to circumvent the law is documented at www.liveaction.org.” [HLI.org, Accessed 4/04/19]
  • HLI Founder Paul Marx said that “As long as homosexuals travel, we can look forward to an unremitting stream of plagues stemming from these disgusting practices.” “Marx stated, ‘Collectively, homosexuals are acting as a gigantic biological vacuum cleaner scouring the earth for germs—and the collecting bag is the United States. AIDS is the first fruit of this ugly process, but we can be certain that it will not be the last. As long as homosexuals travel, we can look forward to an unremitting stream of plagues stemming from these disgusting practices. Homosexuality is the number-one public health problem of our times.’” [Catholics For Choice Report, Page 22, Accessed 4/02/19]

Read more about the extremism of HLI here.

C-FAM is a small group that serves as a platform for its president, Austin Ruse.

Austin Ruse has been the president of C-FAM since 2000. “Austin Ruse has headed the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) since shortly after its creation in the summer of 1997. Austin has held the title of President since 2000.” [C-FAM.org, Accessed 12/12/19]

The Daily Beast: C-FAM is “essentially a platform for extremist Austin Ruse.” “Considering its reach at the UN, C-FAM is a small organization (budget only $1.2 million in 2012) and is essentially a platform for extremist Austin Ruse, a former journalist with a long history of inflammatory comments.” [The Daily Beast, 4/13/17]

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C-FAM denies the existence of any sexual or gender identities which exist outside of a biblical, heteronormative binary

C-FAM opposes the existence of sexual or gender diversity existing beyond biblical heteronormative binary. “Thus, the mere mention of the existence of sexual or gender diversity cuts against the dogma of conservative Christians like those running C-FAM. Remember, this isn’t some kind of international campaign against homophobia: This is about whether to investigate SOGI-based violence at all. But if SOGI-based violence exists, then SO and GI might be a thing—and that is the ‘catastrophe.’ C-FAM’s pitch letter went further, though, saying that ‘It has been the long-term project of the sexual revolutionaries to undermine the teachings of the church and to impose a new sexual orthodoxy on the whole world. The new sexual orthodoxy is nothing more than a new religion celebrating a new god, an angry god, a jealous god.’” [The Daily Beast, 4/13/17]

C-FAM President Austin Ruse wrote an article denying that people can be born LGBTQIA+, claiming “homosexuality’s origin is psychological.” “James Martin SJ says God made them same-sex attracted, that ‘God does not make junk.’ Martin has no basis upon which to claim that same-sex attraction is inborn. Science does not show this and never has. In fact, the clear teaching of the Church, in the universal Catechism, is that homosexuality’s origin is psychological. Sometimes a psychological compulsion may feel inborn but that does not make it so.” [Crisis Magazine, 9/15/17]

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C-FAM President Austin Ruse has a history of hateful, extremist, and outright false comments

Ruse has called for the criminalization of LGBTQIA+ persons and repeatedly called their behavior unnatural and harmful.

Ruse is a proponent of laws which criminalize LGBTQIA+ marriage, adoption “because a sufficient case can be made that homosexual behavior is harmful to the individual and also to the common good.” “Up to ninety countries, however, have laws against homosexual behavior, a group that included the United States until a few years ago, because a sufficient case can be made that homosexual behavior is harmful to the individual and also to the common good. The penalties for homosexual behavior should not be jail time, but having some laws on the books, even if unenforced, would help society to teach what is good, and also would prevent such truly harmful practices as homosexual marriage and adoption.” [The Catholic Theme, 12/18/08]

In 2017, C-FAM sent out a fundraising email of a swastika superimposed over a rainbow flag — stating “We will always call homosexual behavior sinful, offensive, and deeply harmful.” “Anti-LGBTQ hate group C-Fam, which has special consultative status at the United Nations, sent a December 8 fundraising email that featured a custom meme of a rainbow flag with a swastika in it. The meme read, ‘  Sexual Fascists Want to Take Away Your Rights. We are Beating Them at the UN. Help us.’  C-Fam’s fundraising email that included the meme repeatedly used variants of the term ‘homosexual fascists,’ comparing LGBTQ people to Nazis. The email did not shy away from other anti-queer rhetoric, including saying, ‘We will always call homosexual behavior sinful, offensive, and deeply harmful to the individual who practices it and to society at large.’” [Media Matters, 12/8/17]

Ruse claimed that “Most people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals.” “Most people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals. The effect of the Obama policy is to offend billions of people and force this view on reluctant governments. This is most especially offensive to countries that are predominantly Christian and Muslim. In fact, Christianity and Islam are among the chief obstacles of this agenda and policy.’” [Mercatornet, 5/13/13]

Ruse: “Kids Raised by Same-Sex Couples Twice As Likely To Be Depressed, Fat Adults.” [Austin Ruse, Breitbart, 7/7/16]

Ruse claimed that accepting LGBTQIA+ people is “against the clear teaching of the Church.” “Moreover, James Martin SJ tells sexually confused or compromised men and women that there is nothing wrong with what they do. In fact, he says it is laudable. This proposition is false and against the clear teachings of the Church with antecedents in sacred scripture. James Martin SJ lies to them about this.” [Crisis Magazine, 9/15/17]

Ruse claimed the belief that “radical homosexuals…are just like us” is a “highly effective lie.” “Two of the great propaganda achievements of the radical homosexual movement are the now internalized beliefs that they are everywhere and they are just like us. Many propositions laid the ground work for the change in public opinion from the time homosexuality was openly mocked to today when you can get fired even for poking gentle fun. Much of the polling changes in attitudes about homosexuality are grounded not in acceptance but in this kind of fear. But, these two—that they are everywhere and just like us—are two monumental but highly effective lies.” [Crisis Magazine, 1/15/16]

Ruse argued that because LGBTQIA+ persons are “a tiny minority; a tiny hair on the tail that is wagging the whole dog,” they should not be accepted in civil society “just like us.” “Having said that, I agree it is vitally important that the mothers-and-fathers arguments continue. It is also vitally important that arguments continue about the nature of true marriage. But, it is past time to begin speaking some plain truths about homosexuality. First, they are a tiny minority; a tiny hair on the tail that is wagging the whole dog. Second, in very important ways they are not like us. They are profoundly different and these differences need a public discussion.” [Crisis Magazine, 1/15/16]

Ruse has made inflammatory statements questioning the validity of LGBTQIA+ experiences.

Ruse claimed that “homosexuality was invented” in the Nineteenth Century. “I am not sure how it happened, but on some thread about Donald Trump, I was moved to say, ‘Homosexuality was invented in the eighteenth century.’ I did get the century wrong. It was actually more recent, the nineteenth century.” [Crisis Magazine, 8/14/18] 

Ruse once wrote that “There is no scientific evidence that transgenderism is a real thing.” “President Trump did the right thing in overturning the Obama policy of allowing the gender confused in uniform to defend our country. First and foremost, there is no scientific evidence that transgenderism is a real thing, except insofar as someone feels or thinks they are the wrong sex. There are no reputable studies that show any physical reality that leads someone to believe they are the wrong sex. There is no transgender gene, no part of the brain that is different in such a person.  Certainly, there are scientific claims, but claims do not equal truth.” [Austin Ruse, Breitbart, 8/4/17]

Ruse claimed there is no scientific evidence that “same-sex attraction is inborn.” “Much of the debate in America on gay marriage has been built on fake science. There is still no scientific basis, for example, for the claim that same-sex attraction is inborn or that there is a gay gene, which was often cited in claiming that the traditional definition of marriage was per se discriminatory.” [Washington Examiner, 12/03/17]

Ruse has repeatedly denied the existence of hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ persons.

Ruse authored an article titled “A Good Gay Myth Is A Terrible Thing To Waste” in which he denied that the Orlando Pulse shooting was motivated by homophobia. “In much the same way, the mass murder at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub has come to occupy the same emotional, political, and financial space. Recall that Muslim Omar Mateen invaded the gay-themed nightclub in Orlando, Florida and killed 49 mostly gay men. Ask practically anyone and they will tell you the killer was motivated by ‘homophobia.’ They will tell you further that he was not only Muslim but also a closeted gay. His hatred was a two-fer: Muslim gay-hater, and self-hating closeted gay. Well, a three-fer because that night at Pulse was Latino night.” [Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine, 3/09/18]

Ruse disputed a Human Rights Campaign report which documented that trans people are murdered due to their gender identity; he instead argued that the trans victims were “murdered for completely unrelated reasons.” “Right now, the Human Rights Campaign is running an ongoing feature noting the violent deaths of the gender-confused. Last year they published a lengthy report on such violent deaths. I will be writing much more about this in the coming weeks, but one thing that is not immediately clear in these reports is whether these people were killed because they were gender-confused, victims of so-called ‘transphobia’ or whether they were murdered for other completely unrelated reasons. Were they murdered by someone who hates them for being ‘transgender’ or were they murdered in a drug deal, or domestic violence?” [Austin Ruse, Crisis Magazine, 3/09/18]

Ruse stokes conspiratorial beliefs that LGBTQIA+ activists and liberals are seeking to undermine Catholicism and mainstream society.

Ruse claimed the push for marriage equality was “about imposing an ideology on the rest of the country.” “Were gay Americans really ever interested in being married? Was that the true aim of the homosexual activists who fought the marriage wars in the years leading up to the Obergefell decision? No, they weren’t. As their choices in the past two years amply demonstrate, it was a ruse. Gay marriage was about imposing an ideology on the rest of the country. It was about changing the institution of marriage for everyone else. And it was also about getting even with a larger society gays felt had treated them badly.” [Washington Examiner, 12/03/17]

Ruse called trans rights a “sickness” that is “coming after you, your family, the church, culture in general.” “Pope Francis calls upon all people of goodwill – Catholic, Evangelical, even those without faith – to defend themselves, their children, the family, and society at large against the sickness that is gender ideology and creeping transgenderism. Most especially, Pope Francis condemned the effort to inculcate school children with these unnatural ideas. In the coming days, gender ideology may be officially blessed by the United Nations. The Human Rights Council in Geneva has proposed an LGBT Czar to police the world and impose gender ideology on everyone. Do not think ‘religious freedom’ will save you. It won’t. In fact, ‘religious freedom’ is crumbling everywhere. Those who believe ‘gender ideology’ is a matter of equal rights will not allow your faith to protect you. They are coming after you, your children, the family, the Church, culture in general.” [C-FAM Fundraising Email, 3/27/17]

Ruse: “Obama Administration Imposes Transgenderism Nationwide.” [Austin Ruse, Breitbart, 5/13/16]

Ruse said those who support women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights are “as willfully blind as the most-hard line Stalinists ever were.” “‘The evidence is overwhelming,’ says Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) [sic, former name of the organization]. ‘The sexual revolution has been tried and shown to be an utter failure. The body count and the diseases continue to rise. Marriages and families are destroyed. The only ones who do not see this are the ideologists who refuse to see the empirical evidence. They are as willfully blind as the most hard-line Stalinists ever were. And they keep asking for more and more of the same.’” [Aleteia, 11/07/13]

Ruse blamed child molestation in the Catholic Church on “the gaying of the church”.

Ruse claimed that the molestation of boys by a Catholic Cardinal was motivated by “the gaying of the church.” “Cardinal McCarrick’s crimes are at least something of a gift since no one can claim this was merely pedophilia. It was homosexual predation like practically all the others. If you wonder how a Prince of the Church spent decades sexually assaulting boys and young men not only with impunity but with high honors and acclaim, look no further than this gaying of the Church. An authority on this is one Joseph Sciambra who has painstakingly chronicled this fetid sea in which the likes of Cardinal McCarrick swim.” [Crisis Magazine, 8/03/18]

Ruse blamed the AIDS epidemic on “sodomy”.

Ruse said, “The practice of sodomy has led to the still ongoing AIDS pandemic…but, homosexuals do not really want to talk about this.” “The practice of sodomy has led to the still ongoing AIDs pandemic. A few million homosexuals make up the vast majority of AIDs patients and HIV carriers in the United States. Homosexuals still produce 62 percent of new HIV infections. More than 20 percent of homosexuals you will meet are infected. But, homosexuals really do not want to talk about this. They try to deflect the issue by their usual snark.” [Crisis Magazine, 1/15/16]

Ruse claimed that the Employment Nondiscrimination Act would lead to hiring quotas for trans persons.

Ruse claimed that the Employment Nondiscrimination Act would lead to “quotas for transsexuals…[who] don’t even have to know how to type as long they have lopped of their penises or at least wear dresses.” “Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) [sic, former name] responded to the Senate’s passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act with a column in Crisis magazine today declaring that ENDA will lead to ‘quotas for transsexuals’ and force businesses to hire unqualified transgender workers: ‘They don’t even have to know how to type as long as they have lopped off their penises or at least wear dresses.’ All of which got Ruse to wondering why the ‘totalitarian’ gay rights movement isn’t ‘embarrassed by the T in LGBT,” or what he calls ‘displays of obvious psychological disturbances.’” [Right Wing Watch, 11/08/13]

Ruse has called for violence against his political adversaries.

Ruse called for “hard-left” professors that run “modern universities” to be “taken out and shot.” “In 2015, a Catholic priest on the organization’s board resigned in protest at Ruse’s comment that ‘the hard-left, human-hating people that run modern universities should be taken out and shot’. Although Ruse horrified Catholic liberals, he denied that the organisation’s name change was at the request of the church hierarchy.” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

  • Ruse claimed those condemning his comments “have their panties in a twist.” “Ruse railed against RWW, saying that ‘The pajama boys over at Right Wing Watch have their panties all in a twist about what I said.’ He also called liberals ‘dumb,’ ‘stupid” and ‘idiotic’ and claimed that his remarks about shooting leftists shouldn’t be taken seriously.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 3/19/14] 

Ruse called Hillary Clinton “The Conquering Queen” and mused about “[taking her out—and not on a date” on the UN floor. “Hillary [Clinton] is the ‘conquering queen’ at the United Nations…I was standing on the floor of the UN a couple of months ago, when she was thinking about running, and I was talking to a priest from the Holy See delegation and—I shouldn’t tell you this but he offered me guaranteed absolution if I just took her out—and not on a date.” [Catholics For Choice, Page 2, 2001]

Ruse has made inflammatory comments about abortion comparing it to a disease, saying it came from the “the very pits of hell”.

Ruse called access to abortion a “disease” which has “led to millions of deaths” and is “bloody [and] soul destroying.” “The people of Africa are under severe pressure from UN radicals, the Obama administration, and the European Union to accept the ideology that has led to millions of abortion deaths and deaths from disease here in the United States and in Europe. C-Fam is in Nigeria and Kenya this week to raise the alarm. We are there to let our African brothers and sisters know what the UN radicals and the Obama administration has planned for them and what the bloody, soul-destroying result will be. While in Nigeria and Kenya our fearsome team will meet with the Catholic bishops, with activists and, we hope, government officials.” [Right Wing Watch, 4/16/15]

Ruse derided Former First Lady Laura Bush’s op-ed calling for an end to family separation because she supported abortion. “Laura Bush says she is heartbroken about the current policy of separating children from their illegal alien parents. Here is Mrs. Bush telling Larry King she is fine with separating unborn children from their mothers in abortion.”

[Twitter, 6/18/18]

Ruse said that “Abortion lovers, radical homosexuals, sexual revolutionaries…want to win our children over for their nefarious causes that come from the very pits of hell.” “The good outweighs the bad. But, the bad guys are coming. Abortion lovers. Radical homosexuals. Sexual revolutionaries. They are coming for our children. They want to win our children over for their nefarious causes that come from the very pits of hell. C-Fam is the watcher on the wall. We have stood atop this wall since the summer of 1997, sometimes all alone. That is 18 years of stopping a right to abortion, 18 years of stopping a redefinition of the family, 18 years of protecting a right to religious belief and practice.” [Joe My God, 12/30/15]

Ruse advocated voting Republican no matter the party’s stance on any other issues, including torture, because the GOP is anti-abortion.

Ruse advocated for voting for the GOP no matter what because it is the “Party of Life,” and called the Democrats the “Party Of Death.” “The GOP is the only viable vehicle for the pro-life cause. The Domenech-Gobry-Camosy third party would have the effect of turning over government at all levels not to a Party of Life, but to the Party of Death—the Democratic Party.” [Crisis Magazine, 3/08/19]

Ruse: “Even so, the GOP remains the only viable political vessel for stopping what Pope St. John Paul the Great called the most important human rights issue of our time. He did not say that about torture, or the minimum wage, or universal government-run health care.” [Crisis Magazine, 1/30/15]

Ruse has spread lies about contraception and called it “one of the greatest scourges of all time”.

Ruse called contraception “one of the greatest scourges…of all time” because it is “the front of many of the deadly social pathologies of our time,” including divorce, abortion, and “the mainstreaming of same-sex arrangements.” “Contraception is one of the great scourges not just of our time but of all time. In two ways it sets men and women against their creator. First, because they choose disobedience over the clear teaching of the Church. Second, it says no to the creative work of our Lord. Both of these put their souls in jeopardy. Contraception is also the font of many of the deadly social pathologies of our time; the sexual revolution, pornography, divorce and family breakdown, abortion and the mainstreaming of same-sex arrangements including what seems like an inevitable change in the social and legal definition of marriage.” [Crisis Magazine, 2/28/14]

Ruse claimed that Christine Blasey Ford only accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault because she “was the author of six articles in favor of the abortion pill”.

Ruse claimed that Christine Blasey-Ford only accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault because she “was the author of six articles in favor of the abortion pill.” 

[Twitter, 9/27/18]

Ruse claimed that accusing right-wing extremists of racism will lead to a race war.

Ruse claimed that accusing right-wing extremists of racism will lead to a race war. “Recall that Charles Manson wanted a race war. He thought he could get it by killing rich whites in Beverly Hills. Little did he know there were other ways, including creating new exclusionary terms and indiscriminately charging racism against good and innocent people. And, by the way. I’m not white. I’m beige tending to pink. Are not beige and pink ‘of color?’” [Crisis Magazine, 8/20/19]

Ruse claimed that scientific evidence has shown that a woman’s body would naturally prevent pregnancy in the event of rape.

Ruse claimed that Todd Akin’s comments that a woman’s body would naturally prevent pregnancy in the event of rape was backed up by scientific data. “They would have explained that by authentic rape he meant forcible rape as distinct from statutory rape, a distinction made in the application of the bi-partisan Hyde Amendment which blocks federal funding for abortion except in the case of forcible but not statutory rape. On the science of trauma and anovulation, they would have consulted with one of our country’s leading bioethicists, Richard Doerflinger of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who in those early days of the Akin crisis sent around a batch of links to scientific studies backing up Akin’s clumsy formulation.” [Crisis Magazine, 11/22/12]

Ruse has repeated anti-semitic conspiracy theories even in the face of anti-semitic mass shootings.

Ruse said the Boy Scouts allowing gay scoutmasters into their ranks was evidence of “Cultural Marxism.” “The Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School believed economic Marxism would fail because of the resistance of the working classes. They believed Marxism could only ever be achieved by undermining the institutions, all of them. They began what they called the long march through the institutions. Who would have thought even a few years ago that the Boy Scouts would go gay? The Frankfurt School would have.” [Crisis Magazine, 11/20/15]

  • Cultural Marxism is a far-right conspiracy which blames Jewish philosophers for conducting a plot to destroy American society and cultural values. “‘Cultural Marxism,’ described as a conspiratorial attempt to wreck American culture and morality, is the newest intellectual bugaboo on the radical right. Surprisingly, there are signs that this bizarre theory is catching on in the mainstream… In a nutshell, the theory posits that a tiny group of Jewish philosophers who fled Germany in the 1930s and set up shop at Columbia University in New York City devised an unorthodox form of ‘Marxism’ that took aim at American society’s culture, rather than its economic system.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 8/15/03]

Ruse claimed that Obama, “gay billionaires,” and George Soros were funding liberal Catholic groups to undermine the religion. “Then came the Obama campaign and along with it huge money from George Soros and gay billionaires to create lefty Catholic groups that mirrored those on the right. Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United were two of them. Their purposes were to convince Catholics that doctrinal issues were really prudential and that prudential issues were really doctrinal. They strove to convince faithful Catholics that the GOP really didn’t care about the non-negotiables and that we were suckers for ever thinking they did.” [Crisis Magazine, 1/30/15]

  • Associated Press: “White nationalists and others on the political fringes have long cast Soros as the supposed leader of a globalist Jewish plot to undermine white Christian civilization.” “White nationalists and others on the political fringes have long cast Soros as the supposed leader of a globalist Jewish plot to undermine white Christian civilization. Now, President Donald Trump, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other political leaders have brought the vilification of Soros into the mainstream.” [Associated Press, 10/27/18]

Ruse tweeted that “George Soros is a malevolence in this country & elsewhere” in response to a mass shooting which was motivated by the white supremacist “great replacement theory.”

[Twitter, 10/28/18]

  • In reality, the 2018 Tree Of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh was directly inspired by the idea that Jewish people are engineering the “great replacement” of white people by means of immigration. “The mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh comes amid a wave of rightwing violence across the US fuelled by conspiracy theories. It is also part of a long history of white supremacist terror aimed at American Jewish communities…This belief is in keeping with white supremacist ‘white genocide’ narratives, which hold in part that Jews are orchestrating the ‘demographic replacement’ of white people by means of immigration.” [The Guardian, 10/27/18]
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Key Players


Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse is a founding member of C-FAM and has been its president since 2000. The group largely functions as a personal soapbox for Ruse to spew hatred and lies. On LGBTQIA+ issues, Ruse has blamed child molestation on the “gaying of the church,” repeatedly denied the existence of LGBTQIA+ persons and violence perpetrated against them and claimed LGBTQIA+ people are “not like us.” On the topic of women’s rights, Ruse has called abortion “a disease” which “emerged from the “pits of hell,” and claimed that women cannot get pregnant from rape. Ruse spreads conspiracy theories about George Soros, liberal school board members, and Obama, claiming they want to undermine the church and American society. Ruse’s history of hate makes C-FAM’s influence on the United Nations under the Trump administration dangerous for people the globe over.

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C-FAM has longstanding ties to the former Trump administration

Trump’s campaign listed Austin Ruse, the president of C-FAM, as a member of his Catholic Advisory Group. [Donald J Trump For President Press Release, 9/22/16]

C-FAM was named by Trump’s State Department As A U.S. Emissary to the UN Commission on the Status Of Women.

In March 2017, C-FAM was named by the State Department as a U.S. emissary to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. “The United States has sent a pro-family lobbying group listed as a “hate group” by civil rights activists in its delegation to key United Nations meetings, advocates said on Wednesday, fueling [sic] fears over rolling back gay rights. The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) was named this week by the U.S. State Department to attend the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women, an annual set of high-level meetings on women’s equality and empowerment.” [Reuters, 3/15/17]

  • Ruse previously admitted to breaking “every single rule of UN lobbying” by leafleting on the UN floor in the early 2000s. “And then we broke every single rule of UN lobbying, which forbids—wait you’re going to love this—which forbids leafleting. You can’t go onto the floor of the conference and leaflet…But this thing was so explosive, we spread out across the floor and like an Old Testament plague, handed it [a leaflet] to every single person on the conference room floor, every single delegate. And a bunch of our people were thrown off and that was worth it, because something like pandemonium ensued.” [Catholics For Choice, Page 2, 2001]

The Guardian: Former Trump State Department Secretary Nikki Haley’s staffers were “in very close touch” with C-FAM. “‘Nikki Haley’s staffers were in very close touch with C-Fam. C-Fam were continually phoning and emailing Nikki Haley’s staff talking about the language, giving line-by-line instructions,’ Phipps said. ‘It was highly inappropriate for a non-government organisation to be giving line-by-line instructions. C-Fam would be sending emails which would be regurgitated in US cables.’” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the White House chose to make C-FAM part of the U.S. delegation to include “diverse viewpoints.”  “QUESTION: An LGBT group has accused the Center for Family and Human Rights of violating federal ethics laws by using their position as part of the U.N. — U.S. delegation to the U.N. commission on the Status of Women Conference to solicit donations. Do you have any comment on that? And then as a follow up, who actually made the decision to allow this group, which has been designated as a hate group, to actually have status as part of the U.S. delegation to this conference? TONER: Sure. So — I spoke a little bit about this last week. You know, the United States does seek to include individuals from civil society organizations with diverse viewpoints and allow them to observe the U.N. in action during the Commission on Status of Women, as they’re called public delegates. And they can attend formal meetings of the commission as well as side events. They’re not, however, authorized to negotiate or speak on behalf of the United States. With respect to your question about who chose these individuals, I think I’d have to refer you to the White House. I think they’re responsible for the selection of these individuals who participate on this commission.” [Mark Toner, State Department Acting Spokesperson, State Department Regular News Briefing, 3/20/17]

C-FAM provided talking points which were distributed verbatim by the Trump Administration to its UN delegates at Commission on Women negotiations. “‘When we got into negotiations, my instructions from Washington were verbatim taken from C-Fam, and Kozma had the same talking points,’ said Phipps, now an adjunct professor of global issues at Fairleigh Dickinson University. ‘Then the Arab group spoke … and they read their statement and it was exactly the same. I turned to Bethany and said: ‘How did they get your talking points?’ I was winding her up. She looked pretty chagrined. We both knew they were from C-Fam.’” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

  • The talking points called for striking “sexual and reproductive health” and “gender” from UN documents, which is an attempt to undermine rights for women and LGBTQIA+ persons. “Last spring, Laurie Shestack Phipps, a diplomat at the US mission to the UN, received a set of talking points from the state department before an international women’s conference, setting out clear red lines against mention of ‘sexual and reproductive health’ care. This had become the norm in the Trump administration, where the once uncontroversial phrase was seen as code for abortion. Use of the word ‘gender’ was also strongly discouraged, as it was viewed as a stalking horse for LGBT rights.” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

Ruse’s relationship with former Trump Chief Strategist and Campaign Manager Steve Bannon pre-dates the Trump campaign.

Ruse wrote that he received an email “out of the blue” from Bannon in 2014 asking him to publish on Bannon’s website Breitbart. Ruse said he got his “introduction to the mission of Breitbart and to Steve Bannon” when he submitted “a piece bout a new book puncturing holes in the Matthew Shepard myth” and the story got 25,000 Facebook shares and thousands of comments.[Crisis Magazine, 2/3/17]

Ruse once wrote that the Steve Bannon he knows is “brilliant, salty, visionary, and driven.” Austin Ruse wrote in Crisis Magazine, “Here is the Bannon I know. He is brilliant, salty, visionary, and driven. Did I say salty? Very salty. He can be loud and some say bullying but he’s just a tough boss, something even young snowflakes on the right aren’t used to. Bannon never sleeps. Over almost three years I wrote several hundred stories for Bannon and Breitbart. I might be trading emails with Bannon at midnight, go to bed, and at 6 a.m. see he was still emailing me at 3 a.m. He and Trump are similar that way. I suspect they email each other all night long.” [Crisis Magazine, 2/3/17]

Trump Administration Health Department Official Valerie Huber attended a C-FAM sponsored event where she promoted Trump’s anti-abortion and anti-contraception ideology.

Valerie Huber, a Trump-era HHS top official, attended an anti-abortion event sponsored by C-FAM in March 2019. “Valerie Huber, a top Department of Health and Human Services official, was the special guest at a New York City event Tuesday that included representatives of dozens of nations in town for a key women’s rights conference… Huber’s appearance at the event — sponsored by C-Fam, a think tank with Catholic ties whose mission is ‘to defend life and family at international institutions,’ and Nigeria, which generally supports comprehensive family planning — is part of a bold new effort by the Trump administration to build an international coalition to restrict access to abortion and promote traditional values about the family.” [Washington Post, 3/15/19]

Huber used the event to emphasize the Trump administration’s commitment to “protecting life” through their international policies. “The gathering featured a screening of the film ‘Strings Attached,’ which takes aim at the West’s ‘ideological colonization’ of Africa through interviews with women who experienced side effects from contraception or who regretted having abortions, according to two attendees. Huber used her spotlight to emphasize the Trump administration’s commitment to ‘protecting life’ in global health assistance.” [Washington Post, 3/15/19]

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An autocratic regime presented language at a UN Conference directly lifted from C-FAM which red-lined uses of “sexual and reproductive health” and “gender”

At a 2019 UN conference, a Yemeni spokesperson repeated a script circulated by C-FAM which called for the striking of “sexual and reproductive health” and “gender” in UN documents. “It was no surprise that Phipps’ colleague, Bethany Kozma, a political appointee at the US agency for international development, had the same text. What was shocking was that she heard exactly the same words coming from the Yemeni spokesman for the Arab Group. Most striking of all – the shared script was already familiar. It had been circulated before the conference by an anti-abortion lobbying group called the Center for Family and Human Rights, or C-Fam.” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

  • “Sexual and reproductive health” has been weaponized as code for abortion rights and the exclusion of “gender” is seen as an attempt to undermine protections for LGBTQIA+ persons. “Last spring, Laurie Shestack Phipps, a diplomat at the US mission to the UN, received a set of talking points from the state department before an international women’s conference, setting out clear red lines against mention of ‘sexual and reproductive health’ care. This had become the norm in the Trump administration, where the once uncontroversial phrase was seen as code for abortion. Use of the word ‘gender’ was also strongly discouraged, as it was viewed as a stalking horse for LGBT rights.” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

C-FAM leveraged its connections with the Trump administration to form a coalition with autocratic regimes to oppose women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights at the UN. “C-Fam has emerged from the extreme right fringe on abortion, sexual orientation and gender identity to become a powerful player behind the scenes at the UN. With a modest budget and a six-strong staff led by the president Austin Ruse, it has leveraged connections inside the Trump administration to enforce a rigid orthodoxy on social issues, and helped build a new US coalition with mostly autocratic regimes that share a similar outlook. And that coalition has already significantly shifted the terms of the UN debate on women’s and LGBT rights.” [The Guardian, 5/16/19]

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C-FAM was awarded consultative status at the UN’s Economic and Social Council in 2014, giving them access to UN human rights mechanisms

C-FAM was awarded consultative status at the UN’s Economic and Social Council in 2014, allowing them access to human rights mechanisms at the UN. “This year C-FAM was approved for consultative status at the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which is concerned with the world’s social, economic, and environmental issues. ECOSOC will review the organizations in July and in most cases, will approve consultative status. Non-governmental organizations that are granted this status then have access to ECOSOC and its subsidiary bodies and the various human rights mechanisms of the UN and various special events organized by the President of the General Assembly.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 3/19/14]

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C-FAM hosted a 2018 event in a Senate building, where participants created a false equivalency between the trauma of human trafficking and having an abortion

C-FAM co-sponsored an event, Trafficking and Women’s and Children’s Health, a discussion on how the normalization of sex and contraception leads to prostitution and assertions that having an abortion is another level of trauma on top of human trafficking, and medication abortion is the same psychological exploitation as trafficking. [C-FAM.org, 5/17/18]

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C-FAM leader Austin Ruse signed a letter supporting a Russian law criminalizing LGBTQIA+ speech

C-FAM leader Austin Ruse signed a statement in support of a Russian law which criminalized LGBTQIA+ speech in addition to calling the law a victory for human rights. “Last year, he voiced support for Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law (which criminalizes free speech with regard to homosexuality). Ruse called the law a noble quest for ‘human rights’ and signed a joint statement (along with other anti-LGBT groups) in support of it.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 3/19/14]

  • Ruse claimed that international treaties which would protect LGBTQIA+ persons from discrimination would undermine the institution of marriage. “What they want, though, is for human rights treaties to change the traditional understandings of institutions such as marriage. The ICCPR, for instance, ensures ‘the right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and found a family.’ If homosexuality were read into the treaty as a category of non-discrimination, along with such established categories as race, color, sex, language, and religion, then permitting homosexual marriage would be required of states that have ratified the treaty, including the United States.” [The Catholic Theme, 12/18/08]
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C-FAM sponsored an anti-LGBTQIA+ UN event which was attended by Ruse, his wife Cathy Ruse, and U.S. Health Department Official Valerie Huber

C-FAM and other anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion groups sponsored A UN Event Called “It Takes a Family” promoting the exclusionary “traditional family”.

In May 2019 the United Nations hosted an event called “It Takes A Family” which promotes defining the family as the “traditional family,” in which a family can only be composed of a cis-heterosexual couple and their biological children.  “The United Nations will serve as the venue for anti-LGBTQ hate groups when it hosts the ‘It Takes a Family’ event Wednesday…Those five organizations are seeking to push their definition of a traditional family. These groups believe a family can be composed only of a cisgender heterosexual man, a cisgender heterosexual woman and their biological children, thereby excluding anyone else.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 5/13/19]

The event was sponsored by C-FAM alongside Family Research Council, and other groups which push for a for the “traditional family.” “International Organization for the Family (parent of World Congress of Families), Family Research Council, Family Watch International, United Families International and the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam) are all listed by SPLC as hate groups, and they are among the 17 event sponsors.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 5/13/19]

“It Takes A Family” was attended by C-FAM President Austin Ruse and his wife Cathy, who works for the designated hate group Family Research Council

Cathy Ruse, who was invited on behalf on Family Research Council, presented an award at the event. “I’m proud to be here on behalf of the FRC… but also as a wife and a mother of daughters… Family is the fundamental unit of life, and I’d like to thank the UN Family Rights Caucus, Group of the Friends of the Family, and Civil Society of the Family for their support… The family unit is natural, and we must protect it!” [*Rough transcript, Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

“It Takes A Family” was attended by anti-abortion and anti-sexual education Trump-era US Health Department Official Valerie Huber.

Valerie Huber, former senior advisor in the Trump administration’s Department Of Health And Human Services and former member of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations for the Commission On The Status of Women, was among the speakers at the event.  “The hate groups sponsoring “It Takes a Family” are seeking to strengthen those White House ties. The groups want Valerie Huber, senior policy adviser for the Office of Global Affairs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and a strong supporter of abstinence only, to address the conference. As of press time, there’s no word as to whether she has accepted.” [Southern Poverty Law Center, 5/13/19]

  • Huber has stated that sex education should focus on “biblical standards.” In her 2009 master’s thesis, Huber wrote that Christians “should promote biblical standards” in sex education. She further discussed the immorality of pre-marital sex: “Scripture is replete with examples where sexual immorality derailed a promising life. Sexual sins were common in Scripture and are common today. The Bible is very clear about God’s standards for sex. In both the Old and New Testaments, God relates the beauty of sex within marriage and the destructive nature of sexual behavior outside of marriage (I Corinthians 7:2, Hebrews 13:4, Proverbs 6:29, Song of Solomon).” [Valerie Huber Master’s Thesis, 2009]
  • Huber was criticized by AIDS-Awareness groups in Ohio for holding conferences that excluded gays and lesbians with a “wait until marriage” message that “refused to mention condoms.” “During her time at Ohio’s DHS, Huber was criticized by AIDS-awareness groups in the state for holding conferences that excluded gays and lesbians with a ‘wait until marriage’ message that refused to mention condoms, as well as using federal funding to purchase materials that contained ‘false, misleading, or distorted information’ about contraception, abortion, and blurred the lines between religion and science—an assessment that Huber at the time called ‘an out of context and gross mischaracterization.’” [Daily Beast, 5/28/17]
  • In a previous role at HHS, Huber had the final say over the Title X family planning program. “A senior Trump health official who has promoted abstinence will be the final arbiter of which groups receive federal family planning funds — a change from prior years, when a group of officials made the decision, POLITICO has learned. Conservatives have long criticized the $286 million Title X program, which funds family planning services, mostly for low-income women, because it gives money to Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide abortions, even though there is a prohibition on using those dollars for abortions.” [Politico, 3/06/18]

Read More About Huber On HHS Watch

Huber’s presence at the UN event was seen as an attempt for C-FAM and other to strengthen their White House ties.

Southern Poverty Law Center: “The [groups] sponsoring ‘It Takes a Family’ are seeking to strengthen those White House ties.”  [Southern Poverty Law Center, 5/13/19]

  • At the event Cathy Ruse said that Huber’s “presence among us is a testament to the Trump administration’s willingness to support sovereignty and the rights of the family.” [*Rough transcript, Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

At the event, Huber expressed frustration with many nation states’ unwillingness to align themselves with the United States on the “rights of the family”.

Huber said that “when the family is weak, the pillars of society crumble.” “The purpose of the Declaration [on Social Progress and Development] is establishing the family as the natural unit of society. We agree. The United States is motivated to ensure our policies affirm the importance of family… When the family is weak, the pillars of society crumble.” [*Rough transcript, Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

Huber spoke with frustration about the resistance that “the importance of the family” is met with at the United Nations. “Sometimes in the international fora, the importance of the family is met with resistance. We are not deterred.” [*Rough transcript, Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

Huber also took a dig at the United Nations as an institution when discussing the importance of family. “The government can never take the place of the family. An international body can never take the place of the family.” [*Rough transcript, Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

Huber reaffirmed the United States’ so-called commitment to “protecting children” and “ensuring access to health care” — including “spiritual health” at home and abroad.

Huber said that “domestically and globally, the U.S. is committed to protecting children.” [*Rough transcript, Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

Huber said that the U.S. is committed to ensuring access to health care for all domestically and abroad… [Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

…But Huber then qualified that the U.S. strongly supports something called “optimal health,” which encompasses not just mental and physical health, but also “spiritual health.” [Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

Huber, who is an abstinence-only advocate, emphasized that this “holistic” approach to health care access the U.S. is taking encompasses eliminating risk of “teen sex”.

Huber said that the United States’ approach to “optimal health” includes eliminating sources of risk, such as “teen sex.” [Remarks from “It Takes A Family” Event, 5/15/19]

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