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Speaker at local Republican luncheon has history of questionable remarks 

An attorney slated to be the guest speaker at a luncheon for a local Republican women’s group has a history of making controversial remarks on the subjects of same-sex marriage and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.

Brad Dacus, who will speak at the Estero Bay Republican Women Federated’s planned Sept. 17 luncheon, has compared stopping same-sex marriage with stopping Hitler and the Nazi Party during World War II, and he said the “homosexual lifestyle” was as dangerous for young boys as smoking cigarettes. Dacus is an attorney and the president of the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute, which describes itself as a nonprofit legal defense organization specializing in “defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.”

In the group’s September newsletter, Estero Bay Republican Women Federated President Sandi Tannler said Dacus would be speaking about “civil actions taking place in California” at the luncheon.

“You won’t want to miss him,” Tannler wrote. 

The newsletter didn’t mention that the Pacific Justice Institute is listed as an “active anti-LGBT group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, nor did it mention past remarks by Dacus that raised concerns from LGBT rights organizations like GLAAD. Dacus has been vocal in talking about LGBT issues in schools. That included issuing a 2013 press release claiming that LGBT History Month promoted gay pornography to children. 

Douglas Heumann, a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast and current member of the group’s Tranz Central Coast committee raised concerns about Dacus’ visit to the area.

“I think it’s important that we as a community hold certain civil rights up as important,” he said. “It’s important to know this type of person is coming into our community and spreading lies and hate.”

Speaking to New Times, Tannler said she believed that Dacus’ views were being misrepresented.

“People who haven’t heard him say he is a hate monger, but after they listened to him they walk away saying, ‘Hey he’s a good guy,’” she said.

The luncheon is scheduled to take place at the Morro Bay Golf Course. Los Osos resident Ellen Sturtz said she was disturbed to hear that Dacus would be speaking at a facility run by the county, and brought her concerns to the SLO County Board of Supervisors at its Sept. 15 meeting.

“The idea that [Dacus’] hate speech, the falsehoods that he is shown to spread, would be legitimized in any way by being in a public facility is inappropriate and sends a message that we accept what he has to say,” Sturtz said.

Tannler said she was surprised to hear that people were getting upset. She noted that Dacus had spoken to her group in the past, and that no one had raised it as an issue. In the end, she said Dacus had the right to freedom of speech.

“We all have our rights to speak as they wish,” she said. “If they don’t agree with him, they don’t have to listen to him.”

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