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Posts for February, 2013

Marilyn Musgrave Now Opposes Prop 8 (UPDATED)

Jim Burroway

February 27th, 2013

This is huge. In case you’ve forgotten who former Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) is, here’s a reminder:

Ms. Musgrave, who lost her bid for a fourth term in 2008, was an unsuccessful sponsor of a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex couples from marrying; she once warned that if gay couples were allowed to wed, “the next step is polygamy or group marriage.”

The New York Times is kindly soft-peddalling it a bit. Musgrave was very nearly a single-issue anti-gay politician for much of her time in Congress from 2003 to 2009. She drafted and introduced the Federal Marriage Amendment into both the 108th and 109th Congresses. In a speech at the Family “Research” Council’s “Values Voters Summit,” she said that permanently banning same-sex marriage was top of her agenda — above abortion and home-schooling, both of which were also very near to her heart. “As we face the issues that we are facing today, I don’t think there’s anything more important out there than the marriage issue,” she said. She cited the rabidly anti-gay dominionist pastor D. James Kennedy, founder of Coral Ridge Ministries, as her inspiration for entering politics. He gave her a “Distinguished Christian Statesman Award” in 2005. The American Conservative Union gave her a 99% lifetime rating, ranking her as the most conservative member of the House. The Christian Coalition scored her at 100%.

Also added to the list is Beth Myers, who ran Gov. Mitt Romney’s 2008 GOP presidential campaign and was a senior adviser during the 2012 campaign. The name count of Republicans now urging the Supreme Court to declare Prop 8 unconstitutional now stands at more than 100.

Update: It turns out it was all too good to be true.

Update from Timothy: The New York Times has issued a correction:

Correction: February 27, 2013

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that former Representative Marilyn Musgrave, Republican of Colorado, had signed on to the brief. The brief was signed by Ms. Musgrave’s former district director, for herself.

Not quite “Dewey Wins”, but significantly embarrassing.

How to respond when a damaging person comes out

Timothy Kincaid

April 1st, 2012

I have struggled with how to discuss James Langteaux. I’ve started three times in three different directions and I think the only way to get through this is to tell his story, suggest what is perhaps the best response and invite you to weigh in

Langteaux was raised in a conservative pentecostal family, went to Oral Roberts University, and immediately upon graduation began working for The 700 Club. He is also gay, a fact that seems to have gone through a number of closet stages.

I was SO far in denial that I convinced myself that I wasn’t gay. I just had this inconvenient attraction to men – exclusively. But I sure the hell wasn’t gay!

Langteaux became a power player in Christian Television, wrote a couple of books and even earned himself some cachet by being an ex-gay example. And through his work at the 700 Club, a vehicle for pushing conservative Christian viewpoints, he hurt a number of people. Mainstream Christians, people of other faiths, atheists, liberals, and gays – always gays – were portrayed with little regard for honesty and the empire thrived to praise the glory of Robertson and those who think like him.

So what advise is there to offer someone like James Langteaux? Come out of the closet, tell your story, expose the hypocrisy, and live with integrity from this day forward.

And he has. He came out, wrote a book, and offers words of encouragement to young gay people from conservative families.

But the truth is, I am finding it difficult to like this man. There’s a pinch less remorse and a punch too much self congratulations to make me think that he understands what he has been a part of.

But I am no where near ready to join Dan Avery at Queerty and pen a hate piece. For one thing, I see no value in blanket hate. I’ll criticize a behavior but should it change I consider it counterproductive not to change my response.

Yes, it is tempting to heap abuse on his head and tell myself that he deserves it. But I’m reminded of a shared wisdom that many of our philosophers have told us but we find so hard to fathom; a truth that prophets and messiahs and theologians have expounded but which churches find hard to actualize:

What we do impacts ourselves far more than it does anyone else.

I could hate on Langteaux and if he ever heard of it, it would have little lasting impact. But I would have become that guy, the one who spews hate. I could refuse to forgive him but Langteaux doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who cares what anyone else thinks. And I would become bitter and angry and resentful of any of his future successes.

So to James Langteaux I say, “Congratulation. I know you will be much happier. I hope you have the opportunity some time to heal the harm you’ve done. I wish you well. Good bye.”

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Pat Robertson seemingly baffled by someone else’s Thanksgiving food tradition

Daniel Gonzales

November 23rd, 2011

Given Right Wing Watch‘s scare quotes around “black thing” in the video title I think I’m supposed to be offended by Pat’s confusion regarding a tradition of mac and cheese served at Thanksgiving celebrations in many black families.

YouTube Preview Image

My dad’s family is from Las Cruces, NM and every Thanksgiving we serve New Mexico red chile and corn tortillas with our dinner.

It’s totally a “New Mexico thing” and I’m proud of that.  Would I expect it to befuddle a person with an incredibly narrowly focused cultural and world-view like Pat Robertson?  Duh.  He’s probably still confused by women who wear pants.

Feel free to start a discussion in the comments about your own family’s cultural food traditions at Thanksgiving.

Red chile photo via the food blog Girl With Spoon

Lying About The Hate Crime Bill, #1: “The Thirty Sexual Orientations”

Jim Burroway

May 11th, 2009

You can always tell when our opponents are really scared. Their lies become more ridiculous. Such is the case with the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 (also known as the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act). The proposed legislation expands the already existing federal hate crime law to include violent crimes based on the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and/or disability. The current law already covers actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color and religion.

One of the most egregious lies is this one, as told by the American Family Association:

The Hate Crime law, S.909 (and HR1913), will make 30 sexual orientations federally-protected. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has published 30 such sexual orientations that, because of Congress’s refusal to define “sexual orientation,” will be protected under this legislation.

Focus On the Family’s James Dobson also jumped on the bandwagon as well:

As I’m recording this video greeting, there’s a so-called hate crimes bill that’s working its way through the congress that contains no adequate safeguards to protect the preaching of God’s word. Because the liberals in Congress would not define sexual orientation, we have to assume that protection under the law will be extended to the 30 sexual disorders identified as such by the American Psychiatric Association. Let me read just a few of them: bisexuality, exhibitionism, fetishism, incest, necrophilia, pedophilia, prostitution, sexual masochism, urophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality. Those are just a few. And I have to ask, have we gone completely mad?

Well, it appears that Dobson has. He, the AFA, the Traditional Values Coalition, Liberty Counsel, and many, many others, are pushing this obnoxious notion. Let’s break it all down, shall we?

“Congress would not define sexual orientation”
This line was brought up when the Hate Crimes Act was working its way though the House Judiciary Committee. During the hearing, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) sought to add an amendment to the bill indicating that the term sexual orientation does not include pedophilia.

This attempted amendment was, of course, a deliberate attempt to play on the slander that homosexuality is equivalent to child molestation — a slander that has no basis in the professional literature. But Rep. King pressed on in his attempt to write that slander into U.S. law, claiming that the law doesn’t define sexual orientation.

The problem, of course, is that the federal law which directs the FBI to collect hate crime statistics already includes a very specific definition of sexual orientation. The law’s definition goes like this:

As used in this section, the term “sexual orientation” means consensual homosexuality or heterosexuality.

It couldn’t be much clearer than that. Sexual orientation is exactly what everyone knows it to be: an orientation based on one’s own gender and the gender to which that individual is sexually attracted.

“The APA Defines Thirty Sexual Orientations”
But what if Federal law hadn’t already defined sexual orientation and we had to fall back on the American Psychiatric Association’s definition? Well, it turns out that the APA’s official definition is not much different from the federal government’s. The APA’s official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-TR, 2000) offers a very precise definition of how clinicians should describe a client’s sexual orientation:

Specifiers
For sexually mature individuals, the following specifiers may be noted based on the individual’s sexual orientation: Sexually Attracted to Males, Sexually Attracted to Females, Sexually Attracted to Both, and Sexually Attracted to Neither. [Emphasis in the original]

In other words, the APA defines only four sexual orientations. And they do so in order to provide a consistent description of an individual’s sexual orientation. It is not a diagnosis itself, since homosexuality is not listed as a mental disorder.  And just so everyone’s clear on exactly what the APA means by their very short description of sexual orientation, they provided an expanded discussion on their web site:

Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual, or affectional attraction toward others. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity (the psychological sense of being male or female), and the social gender role (adherence to cultural norms for feminine and masculine behavior).

Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive heterosexuality to exclusive homosexuality and includes various forms of bisexuality. Bisexual persons can experience sexual, emotional, and affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes referred to as gay (both men and women) or as lesbian (women only).

So where did the list of thirty “sexual orientations” come from? Let’s turn again to the APA’s DSM-IV-TR under the heading of “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders,” namely the APA’s examples of sexual paraphilias:

The Paraphilias are characterized by recurrent, intense sexual urges, fantasies, or behaviors that involve unusual objects, activities, or situations and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The Paraphilias include Exhibitionism, Fetishism, Frotteurism, Pedophilia, Sexual Masochism, Sexual Sadism, Transvestic Fetishism, Voyeurism, and Paraphilia Not Otherwise Specified.

The DSM goes further, identifying specific criteria for diagnosing these various paraphilias, something that the DSM does not do for sexual orientation. And the reason is simple: sexual paraphilias are mental disorders according to the DSM, while homosexuality is not. Which is why the DSM devotes several pages to sexual paraphilias — and describes them as an impairment to normal functioning — but just a few words to consensual adult homosexuality, heterosexuality or bisexuality, which the APA reminds us “is not an illness, a mental disorder, or an emotional problem.”

So just to be clear:

  • Sexual orientation is strictly limited to the realms of homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality.
  • All the other stuff — pedophilia, exhibitionism, masochism, and the other twenty-seven paraphilias are not sexual orientations. Homosexuality, heterosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality are not paraphilias.
  • The proposed hate crime laws covers only sexual orientation, and not paraphilias.

In other words, you can still punch a pedophile and not risk running afoul of the proposed hate crime law. I wouldn’t recommend it — you’d still be liable for assault charges, but there would be no federal hate crime enhancements involved.

If you won’t believe me, then how about Dr. Jack Drescher? He’s a member of the APA’s DSM-V Workgroup on Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders, one of the groups working on the next revision of the APA’s manual. He confirmed everything I said, and went further:

Pedophilia is not a sexual orientation, nor would pedophiles be covered by a law protecting people for their sexual orientation. Religious social conservatives who oppose gay rights are using terms that sound like science, as opposed to actual science, to make unwarranted and malicious comparisons between homosexuality and pedophilia. Not only is this scare tactic untruthful, it reveals how little respect some religious conservative leaders have for the intelligence of the people they are trying to persuade.

It is indeed a scare tactic, and anti-gay activists know full well that it is a blatant distortion of the APA’s position on sexual orientation and paraphilias. Remember, Dobson holds a Ph.D. in psychology. He clearly knows that he’s lying, and he has chosen to do so as a deliberate tactic. There’s simply no other plausable explanation. And as the bill comes closer to passing and being signed into law, their rhetoric is likely to get worse, not better. Stay tuned.

See also:
Lying About The Hate Crime Bill, #2: “A Danger To Religious Freedom”
Lying About The Hate Crime Bill, #1: “The Thirty Sexual Orientations”