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Now An Entire Association of Anthropologists Disagrees With Stanton

Jim Burroway

March 7th, 2008

Focus On the Family’s Glenn Stanton has really stepped into it this time. In Monday’s CitizenLink, he claimed that there’s a “clear consensus” among anthropologists that “A family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female.”

But as we quickly learned, anthropologists vehemently disagree on what Stanton claims they agree on. The University of California at Irvine’s Anthropology Chair Bill Maurer and Associate Professor Tom Boellstorff reviewed ten thousand years of human existence and concluded:

[T]here is not now, and there never has been, one single definition of marriage. Marriage may be universal; but what counts as marriage is not.

And Dr. Patrick M. Chapman, anthropologist and author of the upcoming book “Thou Shalt Not Love”: What Evangelicals Really Say to Gays wrote to Box Turtle Bulletin with this:

… [A]pproximately 75 percent of the world’s cultures view polygamy as the preferred form of marriage. Furthermore, anthropologists document that cultures on every continent, excluding Antarctica, have accepted and recognized same-sex marriages.

Now comes word that the entire American Anthropological Association has joined the act with this letter to Focus On the Family (Emphasis in the original):

Dear Sir:

My name is Damon Dozier, and I am the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Director of Public Affairs. In this capacity, I am responsible for the Association’s full range of government relations, media relations, and international affairs programs. Founded in 1902, the AAA—11,000 members strong—is the world’s largest organization of men and women interested in anthropology. Its purposes are to encourage research, promote the public understanding of anthropology, and foster the use of anthropological information in addressing human problems.

I write to address the gross misrepresentation of the position of the anthropological community on gay marriage in your March 3, 2008 Citizen Link press release, “Anthropologists Agree on Traditional Definition of Marriage.” In the release, Glenn Stanton, an employee of your organization who does not identify himself as an anthropologist, asserts that “a family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female.”

In point of fact, the AAA Executive Board issued in 2004, the following statement in response to President Bush’s proposal for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:

The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.

I am alarmed and dismayed at this example of irresponsible journalism and deliberate misrepresentation of the anthropological community. In the future it is my hope that your organization will accurately and honestly convey and communicate the views and interests of the AAA, its 11,000 members, and the social science community at large.

Damon Dozier
Director of Public Affairs
American Anthropological Association
2200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 600
Arlington, VA 22201
703.528.1902
ddozier@aaanet.org

You can read the full AAA Statement on Marriage and the Family here.

See also:
Now An Entire Association of Anthropologists Disagrees With Stanton
Another Real Anthropologist Speaks About Marriage
Focus’ Glenn T. Stanton Speaks For Anthropologists

Comments

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Jason D
March 7th, 2008 | LINK

Oh those anthropologists, they’re just part of the gay agenda, just like the rest of the scientifical community.

Now where’s my abacus? I need it to calculate the movement of the sun around the earth.

Truth Wins Out
March 7th, 2008 | LINK

[...] Box Turtle Bulletin contacted several anthropologists, the American Anthropological Association wrote directly to Focus [...]

RA
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

Glenn Stanton should be fired.

XGW Digest: March 8, 2008 | Ex-Gay Watch
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

[...] More anthropologists weigh in on Focus on the Family’s misrepresentation of “traditional marriage” [...]

Christine
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

I wish there was a way to hold accountable Stanton, Dobson and others who so grossly misinform the public. They should strip them of their academic credentials.

Jason D
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

christine,
I agree, it would be awesome if gays could make a class action lawsuit against dobson , stanton, et al because really, what they are doing is both libel and slander.

Jarred
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

I disagree with the suggestion that Stanton should be fired. Stanton’s doing his job, and I’d say he’s doing his job well (or at least as well as he can do it, given what his job is).

Stanton’s job isn’t to accurately portray anthropologists’ opinions and professional understandings (singularly or as a whole) to the public. His job is to spin (or even misrepresent entirely, if necessary) those opinions in order to make it appear that they support the socio-political worldview of his employer. And that’s exactly what he tried to do. He just failed in the process. (I suppose Dobson could reasonably fire Stanton for doing his job ineffectively, but hey.)

Yeah, he lied. We’re upset, and rightfully so. But hey, in this case, it was his job to lie.

Instead of being fired, Stanton, along with Dobson and everyone else who works for or is affiliated with FOF, should be blacklisted by every professional organization who cares about integrity in the remotest. And those professional associations should make very public announcements about the fact that they’re blacklisted and the reasons for it.

werdna
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

I think Jarred is quite correct that Stanton was just doing his job. In fact, he was following in the footsteps of James Dobson himself:

http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2006/12/14/162

William
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

“Now where’s my abacus? I need it to calculate the movement of the sun around the earth.”

Your abacus, Jason? That won’t be enough; surely you’ll need your astrolabe as well.

banshiii
March 8th, 2008 | LINK

Jim, you rock.
Anyone keeping tabs on how many times this has happend in the last 12 months?

a. mcewen
March 9th, 2008 | LINK

Hey banshii,

I am keeping tabs on things like this on the webpage Anti-Gay Lies and Liars.

Stefano
March 12th, 2008 | LINK

Jim:

Is it my imagination or has the CitizenLink article been completely re-written since you first began posting on this article?

http://www.citizenlink.org/CLNews/A000006695.cfm

I myself had sent an e-mail to Mr. Dozier on the 8th of March, and I’d swear that the above linked article reads differently now.

Stefano
March 14th, 2008 | LINK

PS In the original article there was also no link to the report that is included in the revised article.

Citizenlink Quietly Rewrites Debunked Article | Ex-Gay Watch
March 17th, 2008 | LINK

[...] views of two anthropologists (including XGW contributor Patrick Chapman), as well as those of the American Anthropological Association – all of whom sharply disputed the [...]

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