Dean's lawyer, Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, announced the lawsuit at a press conference Wednesday in midtown Manhattan.
Dean, as TPM readers will remember, sparked a firestorm in the Minnesota state Legislature when he delivered a prayer questioning President Obama's faith.
Dressed in black shorts and a Minnesota Twins T-shirt, Dean on Wednesday told a total of four reporters, "it is regrettable that I had to take this action, but I felt that it was necessary to protect not only my rights but also countless others who believe in family values for our nation's youth."
At issue are comments Dean made last spring on his radio show, Sons of Liberty, regarding homosexuals:
"Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination ... If America won't enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that."
Some reported that Dean's comments indicated he, more or less, supports killing homosexuals. Maddow devoted two fiery segments to Dean's comments, which Dean said Wednesday have done "great damage" to his reputation. Dean later issued a statement to clarify his position on homosexuals, saying he and his ministry are firmly against violence toward homosexuals.
The complaint, filed Wednesday by Klayman in the superior court for the District of Columbia, highlights Dean's relationship with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Bachmann is Dean's representative in Congress, and they have appeared together at fundraising events. The complaint states that Maddow, NBC, MSNBC and a local reporter in Minneapolis "have set out to and did willfully and maliciously harm the presidential campaign of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann."
"By cultivating a leftist market, MSNBC, which desires a leftist oriented market as large as Fox News owns on the right, seeks to boost its ratings and financial performance," the complaint adds. "By offering 'red meat' about [Dean] and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann -- however malicious, misleading and false -- to its leftist, secular atheist and/or pro-'gay rights' audience, it is able to further this objective." Read the full complaint here.
Klayman fielded questions for Dean, saying the lawsuit is not an "attack on gay people," a claim he repeated several other times during the press conference. He did say, however, that MSNBC and Rachel Maddow "despise Christians and conservatives ... and they want to hurt them."
Dean maintains he doesn't dislike homosexuals. "I seek their redemption, not their condemnation," he said. "But I have come to the position that I am not, and I cannot allow the gay lifestyle to be forced upon the nation's youth through indoctrination."
MSNBC spokeswoman Lauren Skowronski told TPM, "This suit is baseless and we stand by our reporting."
Watch Dean's statement at the press conference, via the Village Voice: