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Posts for November, 2010

My existence is not a violation of your rights

Timothy Kincaid

November 3rd, 2010

I am becoming increasingly frustrated by the notion of “balance” that some in the anti-gay industry are espousing.

I support the right of those who believe that homosexual acts are sinful and wish to encourage abstinence to have their voices heard. And those who think that the social acceptance of same-sex couples in society reduces public morality and will lead to social ills should be given the space to present their case.

But the false equivalencies that have been presented lately do not speak to an exchange of ideas, but rather to the assumptions of entitlement to which anti-gay activists think they are due.

The counterbalance to “I wish to advocate for gay rights” is not “you must be kept silent.” And there is no moral equivalency between “I wish to live unharmed” and “I wish to beat you to submission.” Yet these are not greatly exaggerated from that which we see presented.

Take, for example, Russian gay rights protesters who sued their country in the European Court after being denied the right to assemble. The court found last month that their rights had been violated and ordered that Russia allow for future gay rights demonstrations and assigned compensation.

The response to this decision by the Russian Orthodox Church is astonishing. (Interfax Religion)

“The decision made in Strasbourg essentially constitutes violence against the feelings and morals of the majority of [Russian] society. That will hardly help achieve the stated purpose to cultivate tolerance and achieve accord, mutual understanding and peaceful co-existence,” Father Filaret said in an interview with Interfax-Religion.

Peaceful assembly is depicted by the church as “violence against the morals and feelings of society.” The real violence enacted against the physical bodies of gay people in Russia was given less concern by the church than the “violence” against anti-gays feelings.

Howell Superintendent Ron Wilson

Or take note of the equivalencies assigned by the school board in Howell, Michigan. (Livingston Daily)

  • On October 20, Jay McDowell wore a purple shirt to class to express solidarity with students who are bullied for being (or being perceived as) gay or lesbian. This led to a discussion about bullying and why it should be opposed.
  • One student, who had come to class with a Confederate Flag belt buckle was asked by McDowell to remove the item (she did).
  • In response, a male student declared that he opposes rainbow flags because, “I don’t accept Gays. It is against my religion. I am Catholic.”
  • McDowell attempted to explain how “I don’t accept” followed by any group was disruptive and when the student refused to back down, suspended him and another student from the class for the day.

As the Michigan Messenger describes it:

That student … and another student, were kicked out of McDowell’s Economic class after debating with the teacher about a third student’s Confederate flag belt buckle. The student questioned why it was OK for students to wear clothing to support LGBT issues, but not for a student to wear a Confederate flag.

In other words, why isn’t “I support” equivalent to “I don’t accept”? Shouldn’t both positions be given the same prominence and legal and moral weight?

No. Perhaps in some settings, but not this one.

Because the context of the debate was over the bullying of children. And in that context, “I don’t accept gays” is an implicit endorsement of bullying of school children. When speaking of bullying, “I don’t accept” is a justification for bullying.

Yet the school board found that McDowell violated the rights of these two boys to their free expression and reprimanded him. And in doing so, they made the following comparison:

You also state you routinely do not allow [the Confederate Flag] in your classroom because it offends you, and you personally connect this symbol to a list of oppressions and atrocities. You do, however, allow the display of the rainbow flag, to which some of your students have voiced opposition.

McDowell actually does not display the rainbow flag. (And, indeed, if McDowell did use his class space to advocate for specific (or even general) political positions to the exclusion of other positions, I would agree that this was unfair.) But irrespective of that inaccuracy, consider what it means that the school board administration compared the two:

On one hand the Confederate Flag has a traceable history and an identifiable connection with acts of violence and advocacy of discrimination and intolerance towards people based on their racial and religious identity. In fact, in this particular high school it was linked to a Facebook Hate Group which, in 2009, used the flag as its profile picture and students have been required to remove the symbol from their cars. The Confederate Flag at Howell High was directly connected to a threat against some students.

On the other hand, the rainbow flag is linked with a set of social positions with which some students disagree. At most, it exists as a challenge to the beliefs of some students. But in the minds of this school board administration, a challenge to their beliefs is equivalent to – or worse than – a physical threat against others.

And so they accused McDowell of bullying the students, of denying their right to “not accept” their fellow students. In response to his defense of gay students from being bullied (or “not accepted”), they order him to “cease from engaging in the promotion of your personal social issues.”

For refusing to accept statements of intolerance in his classroom, the board accused McDowell of being intolerant.

Nonsense. Contrary to what anti-gay activists claim, tolerance is not defined by the extent to which it allows intolerance to prevail.

But perhaps most troubling is this instruction to McDowell: “Where controversial issues arise, be sure all sides of the controversial issue be explored without emotion and bias.” Think back to the originating situation, the reason for McDowell’s decision to wear purple: the suicide deaths of a number of gay and presumed-gay children.

What, I wonder, are “all sides” of the “controversial issue” that gay students should not be bullied to death?

Guess who inspired Walter Schumm’s bogus “research”?

Timothy Kincaid

October 28th, 2010

MetroCatholic has written up an article about the controversy resulting from the AOL News story about Kansas State University professor Walter Schumm and his “study” finding that the “children of homosexuals are more likely to be homosexuals.”

In what is either a poorly contrived effort at preemptive damage control or a case of absurd irony, Schumm discusses the motivations for his study:

“Most scholars actually agree with the concept that gay people ought to be more likely to have gay children,” he told CNA in an Oct. 19 interview. “Even people on the liberal side of things actually pretty much agree with the idea that there are going to be social influences.”

He noted that prominent gay activist Jim Burroway has criticized proponents of the “parental influence” theory but has also said that such findings would not be surprising. In a column published on a gay and lesbian website in 2006, Burroway noted that virtually every theory about the origin of homosexuality would likely predict a higher incidence in children of gay parents.

Schumm wanted to test that prediction, and to improve on previous research he said was too limited and not sufficiently rigorous. He analyzed data obtained from 26 studies of gay parents and their children.

I was unable to identify – among the many many articles discussing the contributing factors that play into the development of sexual orientation – one that directly fits Schumm’s description. But I did find that in December 2006, Jim said this:

If we are ever able to tease out all of the possible factors that influence sexuality, we will probably learn that there are many different “types” of homosexuality. For some, it may be genetic. For others, maybe their later birth order after a string of brothers. For others still, it may be the same thing that made them left-handed. For others, their left-handedness may be a red herring and the real cause was their distant father. And for others, maybe their absent father had nothing to do with it; prenatal hormones made it inevitable. And for most — maybe all — it is more likely to be the unique combination of any and all of these factors (and others that we haven’t discovered yet) which forms the basis for who we are.

Ultimately, the issue is not whether the “parental influence” theory – or any of the other theories – will be found to be the most accurate. This issue is whether Schumm or his “study” has credibility to contribute to the conversation. And having reviewed his methods, we have determined that he has none.

Mormon leader addresses the Great Conundrum

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2010

Boyd Packer is the president and the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons). On Sunday, speaking to the 180th Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City (which was broadcast around the world), he preached a sermon which was dedicated to anti-gay doctrine and political activism.

Coming on the tail of a series of news reports about anti-gay bullying resulting in child suicide, this shocked and angered those who seek to protect vulnerable children from a culture of contempt. Last night, thousands of protesters surrounded the Mormon Temple in symbolic illustration of the deaths that result from such incautious words.

Public outrage over the comments included demands that the church retract and denounce the sermon. In a most peculiar decision, the church decided instead to sanitize the sermon to make it less obviously objectionable when media came looking for quotes, and released a statement that Packer’s statements were “based on principles of truth, respect and love for all of God’s children.”

I do not fault a religious leader for espousing their religious beliefs, even those which I find to be contrary to everything I think is moral and true. However, as Packer’s talk was laden with terms such as “evil” and “wickedness” and “perversion” and as Packer declared that civil equality for gay couples would lead to the end of civilization, his entire sermon is foul and objectionable.

But amidst the animus and condescension, Boyd did illustrate what I call the Great Conundrum. In May I wrote about this paradox:

For millenia, church teaching has been that God is good and applying his rules leads to happiness. God has said that homosexuality is forbidden and abomination to him. This is evident in Scripture and it is abundantly clear that homosexuality is not to be tolerated. Those who are homosexual are vile and willful sinners who choose to defy God.

However, we currently know the homosexuality is a naturally occurring attribute of a person. One’s attractions are not selected and are based in part on genetics. Other contributors may include other biological or perhaps even social factors, but conscious choice is seldom involved at all and no manner of effort seems effective in changing homosexuality into heterosexuality.

Therefore, God has – through genetics and other factors under the control of his divine hand – created a group of humans which he condemns for being the way He created them. He rejects and punishes them (and endorses the human punishment of them) for the sin of existing, a sin over which they had no free will.

This is not conceivable to modern Christians. This is contrary to how they view the nature of God. And so, Christians are faced with the following options: Either

  • The writers of the Scripture got it wrong, or
  • Your understanding of Scripture is incorrect, or
  • Modern understanding about homosexuality is wrong, or
  • God is a bully.

And I discussed the various ways in which a conservative Christian can resolve such a puzzle. Boyd Packer chose what I called “Response 3: Denying evidence.”

Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father.

Paul promised that “God . . . will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church.

Boyd’s logic goes like this: Inborn tendencies come from God. God is good. Homosexuality is bad. Therefore, homosexuality did not come from God and is not inborn. Science, research, personal witness, and any evidence that contradicts this formula must be ignored.

No doubt this conclusions-based logic will continue for some time to satisfy faithful Mormons who are seeking justification for their anti-gay attitudes or activism. It will provide cover for the church’s continuing attack on the civil liberties of gay people.

But in time, denying empirical evidence will only serve to weaken Packer’s influence and image and come to harm his church.

Star Parker, JC Watts and Bishop Harry Jackson file amicus brief for Prop 8 Proponents

Timothy Kincaid

September 23rd, 2010

Three organizations (consisting primarily of three individuals) which represent socially conservative African-Americans have provided an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit for their consideration in the appeal to Judge Walker’s finding in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that Proposition 8 is a violation of the US Constitution. All three have long been opponents of equality for gay people.

The High Impact Leadership Coalition (Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr.), The Center for for Urban Renewal and Education (Star Parker), and the terribly misnamed Frederick Douglass Foundation, Inc. (former Congressman JC Watts, R-OK) weighed in to argue that “civil rights of parties to same-sex relationships are not advanced by reliance on legal principles that otherwise have served to further the civil rights of African-Americans.”

The history of marriage in the constitutions and laws in America clearly demonstrates that the American people, their elected representatives, and their legal charters flatly reject any assertion that racially segregated marriage (as in Loving) is somehow comparable to sexually integrated marriage of a man and a woman.

Miscegenation laws were based on Supremacy and invidious discrimination, you see. Ummmm….

And besides, as not all states had miscegenation laws, then the core purpose of marriage wasn’t tied to race like it is to gender. To make their point, they offer a numbers exercise.

To begin, of the thirteen States that never had antimiscegenation laws, ten now protect man-woman marriage by positive law or interpretation of statute. Four of the thirteen also protect man-woman marriage by constitutional amendment, which requires approval by at least a majority vote of the people of the State.

Seven States once had antimiscegenation laws but repealed them before Perez v. Sharp, 32 Cal.2d 711, 198 P.2d 17 (Cal. 1948). Today, five of those states expressly protect the institution of man-woman marriage, using both statutes and constitutional amendments.

Fourteen States repealed their antimiscegenation laws after Perez and before Loving. Today, all of those States protect man-woman marriage, most of them with both statutes and constitutional amendments.

So obviously, marriage as a fundamental right only applies to black people and not to gay people.

They go on to rant about the procreative aspect of marriage (citing cased from the 1880s and 1920s) never realizing that their quotes about individuals having the right “to marry, establish a home and bring up children” or about marriage being “the foundation of the family and of society” actually serve to further our argument rather than their own.

Operating under the presumption that family=heterosexual, they only reveal their bias and that it is presumption of heterosexual superiority that is behind every anti-gay marriage argument.

And they go on and on about the intents and appropriateness of the Loving decision, never noting that Mildred Loving herself saw her fight to marry the person she loved as comparable to the fight of gay men and women to marry the person they love.

This fundamental distinction lies at the heart of the point that Yale Law Professor Stephen L. Carter made on the thirtieth anniversary of Loving. He wrote: “One of the beauties of Loving v. Virginia was precisely that it was very easy to see how these were people trying to do a very ordinary thing, and got in trouble for it.”

That distinguishes Loving from the position of advocates of same-sex marriage who are trying to do a very extraordinary thing—to redefine the institution of marriage.

In their conclusion, they claim that using Loving v. Virginia as support for the fundamental right to marry, is just another example of “an illegitimate attempt to appropriate a valuable cultural icon for political purposes.” They don’t note the irony.

Hate attack appears to come from Sen. Chambliss’ office

Timothy Kincaid

September 21st, 2010

Today around noon someone going by “Jimmy” left the following message on Joe Jervis’ blogsite, JoeMyGod, on a thread discussing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

Joe released the IP address of the computer from which the comment was made, and it was identified as belonging to the US Senate and was located in Atlanta, GA. The Senate offices of Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, both Republicans, are located in the same building and the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates for the IP address direct to that building.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has made inquiries of the Senators’ staff:

A spokeswoman for Isakson said his staff quickly ascertained that the message did not originate there.

Which leaves one other possibility

“We have seen the allegations and are moving quickly to understand the facts. This office has not and will not tolerate any activity of the sort alleged,” Chambliss spokeswoman Bronwyn Lance Chester said. “Once we have ascertained whether these claims are true, we will take the appropriate steps.”

It will be interesting to discover exactly what Sen. Chambliss considers to be appropriate. And it makes one wonder exactly what sort of political atmosphere exists in his office which would allow a staff member to assume that such behavior was acceptable.

Update: Joe Jervis has received confirmation that the comment did indeed come from Chambliss’ office. The identity of the commenter may come tomorrow.

Far Right gathers for Value Voters weekend

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2010

Earlier this month we discussed the wackadoodle extravaganza which was the Taking America Back convention. But this weekend, that seminar’s cousin the 2010 Value Voters Summit is meeting for roughly the same purpose: rallying the troops to impose their religious beliefs on non-believers by use of governmental force. And while Taking America Back consisted primarily of the delusional, the excitable, and the social misfits, the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit draws “respectable” activists and recognizable politicians.

But make no mistake, the agenda of the Voter Voters Summit is no less radical or unAmerican than that of its low-rent cousin. And no small part of their obsession is on the extent to which gay people should be disallowed from participating in society.

The plenary session presentations consist of:

* We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future
* ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Panel
* We the People: The Tea Party’s Place in American Politics
* Parental Choice Education: Beyond One-Size-Fits-All Schools
* Hollywood Panel

Although only one of the five plenary discussions focuses solely on gay issues, it is without question that much of the other sessions will also be dedicated to “opposing the homosexual agenda”. That is, after all, the number one complaint that social conservatives have with the schools and Hollywood. And for those who really want to spend their weekend on nothing but “evil sodomites”, they can attend Saturday’s 3:30 breakout session entitled The falsehood of the inevitability of same-sex “marriage”.

The entire event will be filled with speeches and presentations by familiar names in the anti-gay movement. But unlike Taking America Back, most of these have social grace and appearance of sanity. With one notable exception: the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer will be speaking tomorrow morning and is likely to spout things that are so irrational as to confuse even that sympathetic audience.

These conferences are useful; they help us separate political opponents from those who truly are devoted enemies of our lives, freedoms and liberties. Many conservative Republicans hold positions that are unfavorable to us, but do so more from ignorance or distorted principle than out of zealous animus. But those who participate at these conferences do so because the believe that they are authorized by God to destroy our cause and our lives.

This year, perhaps even more than most, participation at the Value Voters Summit is a clear indication of animus towards the gay community. And by going there this year, politicians are making a visible statement that they are not just in disagreement with some of our cause but rather that they see us as a threat and an enemy and that they will do whatever they can to harm us.

Most of these names will not surprise us:

Governor Mike Huckabee
Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)
Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind.)
Governor Mitt Romney
Senator Rick Santorum
Christine O’Donnell
Newt Gingrich
Governor Bob McDonnell (R-Va.)
Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) (via video)
Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)

NOM blatantly appeals to homophobia

Timothy Kincaid

August 30th, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage has now officially become part of the wackadoodle extremist end of the anti-gay religious right. While Maggie Gallagher was officially at the helm, they managed to carry a pretense of civility and wore the mask of being issue driven rather than just acting out of animus and contempt.

But now that Brian Brown is the name on the masthead, the mask has come off. NOM no longer pretends to be civil, but instead now is openly using the tactics and language of those who seek not just to “protect traditional marriage” but to demonize gay people themselves and stir up hatred towards them.

No longer content with scare tactics such as “Mommy, I can grow up to marry a princess”, NOM is now spreading fear about radical homosexual activists and putting “gay marriage” in scare quotes. NOM has now become indistinguishable from Peter LaBarbera or Brain Camenker or Eugene Delguadio.

When the District of Columbia voted for marriage equality, NOM has become infuriated. And so they have involved themselves in the Washington DC councilman race.

Ward 5 Councilman Harry Thomas voted for marriage equality in the nation’s capital, so NOM has declared him to be an enemy and has funded a mailer for his opponent, Delano Hunter. It is as disgusting a piece of blatant nastiness as one would expect to find coming from MassResistance or the Traditional Values Coalition:

Thousands of dollars from homosexual activists outside Ward 5 are attacking Delano Hunter become he supports our right to vote on whether the District legalizes “gay marriage.”

Radical, gay marriage activists are flooding Ward 5 with money to defeat Delano Hunter, not because they don’t like his plan to improve our community, but only because the supports the Biblical definition of marriage.

The outside gay activists don’t care about our right to home rule and right to vote on gay marriage. They only care about their agenda to redefine marriage. Don’t let them target Delano Hunter.

There is, of course, no explanation of why the Sister is in the picture. We don’t need one; we know exactly why that picture was selected. The Sisters are “scary” and for those who don’t know better she makes a good illustration of just what a radical homosexual looks like.

And, of course, since it’s NOM, the claim is a complete lie. Not a cent has been given to Thomas from “militant gay activists” in San Francisco or New York.

NOM’s Maggie Gallagher loves nothing more than to complain that mean gay marriage supporters are calling her names. “They call us bigots,” she whines at every opportunity.

At BTB we seldom engage in slinging slurs like “bigot” or “homophobe” or “liar” at those who oppose our equality. It serves no purpose and tends to shut down any possible hope for dialogue. And the truth is that most of those who don’t favor equality actually aren’t motivated by hatred or animus. Prejudice, presumption, and apathy are probably more to blame.

But while I am not calling Brian or Maggie names or accusing them of being bigots or homophobes, this particular mailer seeks to do nothing other than to appeal to hatred and fear. This mailer is, without question, bigoted and homophobic.

Wackadoodle School a failure

Timothy Kincaid

August 6th, 2010

Peter LaBarbera’s wackadoodle school for young anti-gay activists has begun. And, as a report from Truth Wins Out informs us, it is a dismal failure. I guess there just isn’t that much demand for training on how to defend execution of gays, make up lies, sneak into leather events in disguise, sneak kidnappers out of the country, or defraud the poor. Who knew?

According to our sources, there were between 20-30 people in attendance. This was shocking, considering there was a large roster of notoriously anti-gay speakers. Ironically, the Gay Liberation Network’s protest had more demonstrators (see below) outside the event than there were people soaking up the hate on the inside.

The event was not only homophobic and sparsely attended, it was painfully boring, according to one eyewitness.

“It was an exhausting 12-hour day,” said a spy. “The speakers were less charismatic than tree stumps. I would rather turn Bill Gates’ vast fortune into a giant mountain of pennies and count them, than endure one more tedious anti-gay seminar.”

GOProud desperately seeks attention, reveals insecurities

Timothy Kincaid

August 6th, 2010

Have you ever seen straight women out for a night at the gay bar? There’s always one who goes and tips a go-go boy and they all shriek at how Daring! and Shocking! and Scandalous! she is. Invariably she goes for the repeat performance, and then again, in hopes of winning back the spotlight.

I pity such women. Their desire for attention at any cost suggests that they really don’t much think that they are worthy of respect or attention for their own merits.

I can’t say that I’ve never done anything for attention. There have been times – probably more than I would care to acknowledge – when I’ve played the fool for the spotlight. But I’m not so much a fool that I am not aware of (or ashamed of) such motivation. And I’ve never gone to the extent of harming my community.

Sadly, GOProud has no such hesitation. Ever since the little collection of egos which go by the name GOProud broke away from Log Cabin (because LCR was a gay-rights group, not a hate-the-Librulls group) they’ve been waving their dollar bills in the air shrieking “look at me, look at me.”

And for half of a moment, people glanced at the peculiarity of gay people working against their own best interests. But then the world said, “meh”, gave a collective shrug, and went back to watching Snookie on Jersey Shore. Even bad reality television is more interesting than a group whose sole accomplishment is being more conservative than Log Cabin.

But having got a taste of attention, they are desperate for more. And so in their desire to one-up their Daring! and Shocking! and Scandalous! behavior, they have been trying harder and harder to come up with anything they think will annoy people enough to make us pay attention. Oddly, most of it is not only anti-gay but anti-decent-Republican.

In June they ran an attack on pro-gay Republican Tom Campbell, choosing instead to endorse Carly Fiorina who opposes gay equality. They said that Campbell was too much like Dede Scozzafava who, because she supports marriage equality, is “far outside the Republican main stream.”

Then they decided to hold a reception at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, which was being subjected to a boycott organized by Republican gay activist Fred Karger. The hotel’s owner, Doug Manchester, funded the signature collection for Proposition 8. (GOProud failed to mention the attendance, so I’m assuming it was worse than the most poorly attended NOM rally.)

But that didn’t get the attention they first drew. Frankly, beyond a few mentions on blog sites, their shock value is fading. No one is much surprised nor impressed by attention seekers doing things solely for the attention.

So now they are trying to ratchet up the volume; they have decided to join forces with raging homophobe Ann Coulter. And if anyone knows how to get attention for doing nothing at all but being Daring! and Shocking! and Scandalous!, it’s Coulter. GOProud has decided to hold something they are calling Homocon 2010 which will feature Ms. Coulter and her rants about Librulls.

Yawn.

As Ann’s supporters don’t much like Teh Gey and as most gay folk are not much fond of being called “faggot,” I think they could probably hold their event in a booth at Denny’s. And other than the cursory “there they go again,” I’m not expecting that their desperate plea for attention will garner much.

But in the process they said the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard from GOProud. It’s the little slogan they have adopted:

“Our gays are more macho than their straights.”

Now I don’t have any particular concerns about my macho factor. I don’t insist that I’m “straight acting” or try to butch it up. Frankly, while I’m not Paul Lynde, it just doesn’t cross my mind whether I’m “more macho” than anyone else.

But I have met some gay men for whom this was a great concern. They felt, somehow, that masculinity was a symbol of superiority and that if they could “pass for straight” then they were better than the flamer. They were real men, you see. Worthy of being treated with respect, unlike that queen over there.

I don’t have much respect for such folk, but I do have pity; such thinking is almost invariably based in a deeply internalized sense of worthlessness and insecurity. They so fear that they are lesser that they have to find someone even “worse” so they could push away the fear and the doubts and feel almost okay about themselves.

Perhaps that isn’t what motivates Jimmy LaSilva and his tiny band of fellow attention seekers. Perhaps he really is secure in his sexuality and his own sense of self.

But… let me just say that it wouldn’t surprise me all that much if his next move was into an ex-gay ministry.

NOM claims to be separate from the Facebook page they tout as their own

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2010

The public relations firm for the National Organization for Marriage has sent us a statement about the Protect Marriage: One Man One Woman facebook page:

“The Huffington Post on Wednesday falsely attributed statements to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) about discrimination faced by gays and lesbians. The statements were apparently posted by an unnamed “administrator” of the “Protect Marriage: 1 Man 1 Woman” Facebook account. Huffington Post falsely claims that this is NOM’s Facebook page. The Facebook account on which these statements were reportedly made is not NOM’s Facebook page and neither NOM nor anyone representing NOM made these statements. The Facebook account in question is operated by a private party and NOM does not control what is allowed to be posted on the account, a fact that could have been easily known to Huffington Post had they reached out to NOM to verify the report.”

Because BTB was referenced in the piece, they wanted to be sure that we know that NOM is not responsible for the false, hostile, and hate-filled statements being made by the administrators of the site.

I don’t buy it.

Not only has Jeremy at GoodAsYou.org fully documented that Louis Marinelli and his organization/website have become integrated into NOM’s structure, but NOM is touting the site as their own. From Twitter:

And what do you see when you get there?

So this is “not NOM’s Facebook page”? Really?

Now, I understand the distinction between running a site and just linking to others who may share similar goals but different perspectives. In fact, Box Turtle Bulletin has a whole blogroll of sites we offer for those who are looking for additional coverage of issues which we discuss. But we don’t put them under our heading, let them use our Logo, or utilize their site to collect names for the “BTB Team.”

And let’s take a little look at the language on NOM’s Big Bus of Animus:

Gee, it certainly looks to me like the National Organization for Marriage has adopted the phrase “One Man, One Woman” as their own. And who is driving that bus? Louis Marinelli, who is the “owner” of the facebook page that NOM is simultaneously touting and denying.

And finally, if “neither NOM nor anyone representing NOM made these statements”, then maybe you should tell him that. Earlier today, James Preece, writing as an administrator, had this to say about the comments which were quoted in the Huffington Post:

Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman I’m not making a retraction: Through out history homosexuals have never faced persecution at the level Jews, Christians, and Blacks have. For the homosexual population, their only focus is WWII.

Jaimi, when you work in the area I and others of NOM and Protect Marriage, you will hear a lot of thing from the homosexual activist…

So, no, I don’t believe that NOM has any right to complain that anyone might have confused the two organizations. In fact, they have so commingled their image, their staff, and their slogans that they have for all practical purposes become one entity.

If NOM doesn’t believe or support the statements made by the facebook page administrators, then they need to publicly denounce them and pull their logo from the site. Otherwise, claims such as the one made by NOM’s PR firm are not worth the digital space they occupy.

What the “Illinois professor fired for giving Catholic teaching on homosexuality” really said

Timothy Kincaid

July 12th, 2010

Dr. Kenneth Howell was fired by the University of Illinois when a student complained that Howell, who taught a course in Catholic theology, actually preached to his students instead of instructing them and made statements that consisted of hate-speech. Anti-gay activists are crying martyr.

The Catholic News Agency describes Howell’s comments this way:

Howell said he taught the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality. He summed it up by saying, “A homosexual orientation is not morally wrong just as no moral guilt can be assigned to any inclination that a person has. However, based on natural moral law, the Church believes that homosexual acts are contrary to human nature and therefore morally wrong.”

Gosh, that doesn’t seem so bad. That’s just a fact based statement about the teachings of the church, one that I or anyone else might make.

But – not to challenge the integrity of the good folk at the Catholic News Agency, of course – but in his email of instruction to all of his students, Howell also said a good deal more.

If two men consent to engage in sexual acts, according to utilitarianism, such an act would be morally okay. But notice too that if a ten year old agrees to a sexual act with a 40 year old, such an act would also be moral if even it is illegal under the current law. Notice too that our concern is with morality, not law. So by the consent criterion, we would have to admit certain cases as moral which we presently would not approve of. The case of the 10 and 40 year olds might be excluded by adding a modification like “informed consent.” Then as long as both parties agree with sufficient knowledge, the act would be morally okay. A little reflection would show, I think, that “informed consent” might be more difficult to apply in practice than in theory. But another problem would be where to draw the line between moral and immoral acts using only informed consent. For example, if a dog consents to engage in a sexual act with its human master, such an act would also be moral according to the consent criterion. If this impresses you as far-fetched, the point is not whether it might occur but by what criterion we could say that it is wrong. I don’t think that it would be wrong according to the consent criterion.

Interesting. I don’t think it is official Catholic theology to equate homosexuality with pedophilia or bestiality. But, as a position of logic, that might not be beyond the pale.

But what else did he have to say?

But the more significant problem has to do with the fact that the consent criterion is not related in any way to the NATURE of the act itself. This is where Natural Moral Law (NML) objects. NML says that Morality must be a response to REALITY. In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same. How do we know this? By looking at REALITY. Men and women are complementary in their anatomy, physiology, and psychology. Men and women are not interchangeable. So, a moral sexual act has to be between persons that are fitted for that act. Consent is important but there is more than consent needed.

One example applicable to homosexual acts illustrates the problem. To the best of my knowledge, in a sexual relationship between two men, one of them tends to act as the “woman” while the other acts as the “man.” In this scenario, homosexual men have been known to engage in certain types of actions for which their bodies are not fitted. I don’t want to be too graphic so I won’t go into details but a physician has told me that these acts are deleterious to the health of one or possibly both of the men. Yet, if the morality of the act is judged only by mutual consent, then there are clearly homosexual acts which are injurious to their health but which are consented to. Why are they injurious? Because they violate the meaning, structure, and (sometimes) health of the human body.

Natural Moral Theory says that if we are to have healthy sexual lives, we must return to a connection between procreation and sex. Why? Because that is what is REAL. It is based on human sexual anatomy and physiology. Human sexuality is inherently unitive and procreative. If we encourage sexual relations that violate this basic meaning, we will end up denying something essential about our humanity, about our feminine and masculine nature.

I know this doesn’t answer all the questions in many of your minds. All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions. As a final note, a perceptive reader will have noticed that none of what I have said here or in class depends upon religion. Catholics don’t arrive at their moral conclusions based on their religion. They do so based on a thorough understanding of natural reality.

Oh… so this isn’t just Catholic theory he was teaching. It was his own personal beliefs, not – he says – based on his religion, but universally observably true. Based on what he imagines a sexual relationship between two men to be and on what “a physician” told him (something he calls “extensive research into homosexuality”). And, as his students are “not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter,” they should just accept his own beliefs as their own.

I’ll let you decide whether you think that this was an offense worthy of firing.

CORRECTION:

Kenneth Howell was an Adjunct Associate Professor of Religious Studies. He wasn’t fired but his contract was not renewed.

I’ll let you decide whether you think that this was an offense worthy of being denied a renewed contract.

Dr. Laura doctors her past

Timothy Kincaid

July 10th, 2010

dr-laura.jpgAs I have noted in the past, Dr. Laura Schlessinger does not at this time use her radio show to rant about gay people with disgust in her voice. In fact, she advises gay people to come out to their families and told Larry King last year that commitments between same-sex couples are “beautiful thing and a healthy thing”.

But girl has still got her some pent up anger about a boycott of her early 90′s television show which destroyed her chances of being Dr. Phil. Well, that and the fact that her show was simply unwatchable.

And so – yet again – Schlessinger has set out to “set the record straight”. In a June 22 blog post, Laura says that she’s always been supportive and that statements to the contrary are lies about her.

Nothing new here. I’ve been commenting on this for a while, but last night a friend approached me…a friend approached me and asked me how he should handle a particular situation. (I thought I was getting into “Dr. Laura gear”). Somebody had contacted him and challenged him about being my friend because, (and to quote that person) “she hates gays”. For almost a dozen years (I think they’re automatically renewed computer-wise daily…you’ve probably seen it or heard about it), a blog appears under different sources, ostensibly asking me to answer questions about some of the Bible’s entries about slavery, daughters…so forth. It supposes that I ever quoted Leviticus that homosexuality is an abomination. That never happened. I repeat: that never happened. I never said that. I don’t believe that.

In fact (which they will deny…don’t you love activism?) I was one of the earliest radio hosts to support organizations such as PFLAG (you know, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and other efforts to encourage openness and acceptance of gays in their own families, much less society. But to my surprise (but not naivetë), to many activists, truth is irrelevant when the intent is to rally support through raising passions, especially negative passions. Get people angry and they stop thinking for themselves.

She goes on to state that she opposes gay marriage and gays raising kids but that “listeners and fans who are gay” adore her. She quotes several letters and conversations to prove her point.

Having people believe that I’m a bigot and hate me…and “hate” is the word…is horrible, frustrating, demoralizing and unbelievably painful.

But the problem is that these angry “activists” are not wrong. While it is true that Dr. Laura can be supportive today, she has not always sought to encourage openness or supported the goals of PFLAG. In fact, the Dr. Laura of 2000 said some things that certainly would not be considered “supportive” and which did use the Bible as justification for bigotry.

Rather than “efforts to encourage openness and acceptance of gays in their own families, much less society,” in 2000 Dr. Laura was lamenting “the celebration of sexual deviancy and license” and saying that she “reveres the Bible and determines morality by the words of God.”

That year Dr. Laura Schlessinger wrote the foreword to wacky ex-gay gadfly Richard Cohen’s book, Coming Out Straight : Understanding and Healing Homosexuality. She didn’t have any opinions about his beat-the-pillow methods or about the appropriateness of cuddling as a gay cure, but she sure had a lot to say about gay folk.

She started it this way:

We live in a world in which the radical homosexual activists have, through aggressive lobbying and successful strategic initiatives successfully managed to infiltrate and effect change in government, public schools, churches, and even in our scientific institutes. Slowly and ever so surely, they are deconstructing the conventional family in order to accommodate their own personal desires and political goals. In the name of human rights and equality, the extremists in the homosexual community have altered the fundamental fabric of cultural and moral norms.

Oh, but not all gay people were “radical homosexual activists”. Those who agreed that they were sexual deviants, opposed civil equality, and were “struggling with personal and spiritual turmoil” were just fine. In other words, Dr. Laura loved her some ex-gays.

And she was furious that “these zealots” had convinced the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association (neither of which she is qualified to join) to state that there is no proof supporting conversion therapy. The gall!

I do give Dr. Laura credit for changing her views. I appreciate that she no longer seems to believe that change therapy is effective. I’m glad that she finds same-sex commitments to be “a beautiful thing and a healthy thing.” And I’m delighted that a lot of conservative parents today do hear her message of acceptance and support.

But let’s not pretend that the anger wasn’t earned. So to Dr. Laura and her latest complaint, I say:

For heaven sake, Dr. Laura, you weren’t the injured party. You don’t get to complain.

You don’t deserve a reward or praise for supporting gay people. That’s just expected; it’s the right thing to do. And no one deserves credit for simply doing what is right.

But you do need to own up to your past bigotries. By all means denounce them, but don’t deny them. You said it, you meant it, and you need to still be held accountable for the damage you have done.

Read her full FOREWORD after the jump

Read the rest of this entry »

Attacked for beliefs about gay equality

Timothy Kincaid

July 3rd, 2010

Anti-gay activists who wish to operate in the shadows and keep their identity secret sued to have the names listed on Washington’s Referndum 71. They claim that gay people are violent and it is dangerous and life-threatening to be publicly opposed to the rights of gay couples.

From last sunday’s article in the anti-gay (and often loony) World Net Daily:

“We’ve got affidavits from more than 60 people who were targeted, harassed. There are newspaper reports of more cases. This seems to be a concerted campaign … to attack and stifle the opposition through harassment”

The courts refused to toss out the state’s policy, but did tell the opponents of equality that if they liked they could go to court with evidence of significant threat if they like.

So they will go to the lower court to try and argue that the gays are frightening and that decent God-fearing people tremble in their sensible shoes when the see one. Gays will hurt you, and they have examples!!

When the fight over marriage was raging in California, WND reported an angry mob of homosexual activists attacked an elderly bespectacled woman carrying a cross, then shouted her down during a live TV interview.

“We should fight! We should fight!” screamed one protester as the woman, identified as Phyllis Burgess, stood calmly with a reporter waiting to be interviewed.

When she came out to the gay crowd protesting Prop 8 and tried to counter-protest, they shouted her down!! And she was bespectacled!!

And there were people on-line who made outrageous statements! like, “Can someone in CA please go burn down the Mormon temples there, PLEASE. I mean seriously. DO IT”.

Can you believe it? Someone saying something outrageous in an online comment thead?

Meanwhile, there’s a news report out of Anchorage today (AP):

Anchorage authorities say they’re investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a gay pride float intended for a 4th of July parade.

KTUU-TV reports that witnesses told investigators that moments before the fire began Friday morning they saw someone running from the driveway where the float was being constructed.

The Imperial Court of All Alaska is going to try and put something together and particate in tomorrow’s parade. I think they should just roll the charred mess down the street with a banner about the real threat that gay people face daily. And it isn’t a threat to our styrofoam cross.

Tennessee appeals court slaps down anti-gay activist judge – again

Timothy Kincaid

June 30th, 2010

It’s hard to think of a definition of “activist judge” that would not have Chancellor George Ellis of the 28th Judicial District in West Tennessee as Exhibit A.

In May 2008, Angel Chandler and her ex-husband Joseph Barker went before the judge to modify their parenting plan. But Ellis didn’t like that Angel was living with her female partner of nine years and decided that he was going to do a little legislating from the bench.

Now the 28th judicial district in Tennessee has Local Rule 23, whereby agreements have a “paramour clause,” a decision that denies custody or even visitation rights to parents who allow an unmarried partner to stay overnight. But this can be overridden by a court, something that Ellis decided he wasn’t going to do.

Now this is not the case of a judge siding with the straight parent; her ex-husband (who has remarried) didn’t ask for the clause or object to its removal. And it wasn’t over-reliance on a hostile child services worker; reports showed no harm to the children. This was simply the case of a judge going against the wishes of the parents and the children and the advice of the psychologist, and taking it upon himself to disrupt the life of this family out of his own personal biases and bigotries.

Angel’s and her partner moved into two halves of a duplex so they could live near each other but apart while they appealed the decision, but soon found the double households to be prohibitively expensive. But fortunately they won their appeal, with the court reminding Ellis that the state law requires the primary consideration for custody arrangements be what’s in the best interest of the children.

Well, Ellis didn’t need no stinkin’ law to do what he wanted to do, so he insisted that the paramour clause remain in place until he could have a hearing. Well in March of this year he had his hearing at which time he decided – without any evidence as support – that it was in the best interest of the children that Chandler and her partner be forced to live apart in order for her to have her kids visit. (Citizen Times)

“A paramour overnight, abuse of alcohol and abuse of drugs are clearly common sense understanding that children can be adversely affected by such exposure….”

(There is no mention of there actually having been abuse of alcohol or drugs, Ellis just sort of threw that in there for comparison. Ya know: alcohol, drug, lesbians – all just obviously not in the kids’ best interest to be around these things.)

So back to the court they went. And this time the appeals court was not amused that Chancellor Ellis had decided to impose his agenda over that of the law.

“The record is devoid of any evidence whatsoever to support the finding that a paramour provision is in the best interests of the children. In fact, the record contains evidence demonstrating that a paramour provision is contrary to the best interests of the children,” the court wrote.

So far I’ve been unable to locate any mention of this story by the usual crowd of anti-gay ranters. I guess their definition of “activist judge” is one who disagrees with them.

NOM joins forces with virulently vile anti-gay activist

Timothy Kincaid

June 28th, 2010

It seems that the National Organization of Marriage has been gradually slipping off message. Long pretending that “we don’t hate homosexuals”, NOM tried to keep up the image that they were just opposed to same-sex marriage (for the children, you know). But it seems that Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown have found the effort of appearing pleasant to be daunting (or perhaps less financially fulfilling) because recent comments seem to be veering closer and closer to plain old anti-gay animus and playground meanness.

Now Jeremy at Good_As_You has (along with blogger Matt Algren) identified an affiliation between NOM and their new strategist, anti-gay activist Louis J. Marinelli III. The language and claims of Mr. Marinelli bring NOM into a whole new category. Here are a few of the tweets that Marinelli has recently made on NOM’s behalf.

Those who wish to promote homosexual behaviour are encouraging people to shorten their life spans. Homosexuality is not a healthy lifestyle.

(We debunked the “shorten lives” claim)

#nevertrust activists of the homosexual agenda – they are deceitful people who care only about themselves and not what’s best for society!

It is clear that Maggie and Brian have decided to link their organization to the most radical and extreme segments of the anti-gay movement. They are now taking on the tone of spiteful slurs and villification of the gay community.

But really, is it all that surprising?

When someone dedicates their life to fighting against your rights, freedom, liberty and equality, it isn’t out of love. It just isn’t

Campaigning for discrimination is bad for business

Timothy Kincaid

June 23rd, 2010

After the legislature passed House Bill 444 to allow for the creation and recognition of civil unions in the State of Hawaii, the executive director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable sent a letter recommending that Governor Lingle veto the bill.

Choosing not to express ways in which, if any, the Roundtable as impacted by the bill, the letter chose instead to justify their call for veto in terms of vague “questions” that have “implications” and “complexities” involving ERISA. Were Hawaii the first state to consider civil unions, their letter might have merit. But considering that several states have already resolved the ERISA “complexities”, the letter signed by executive director Gary K. Kai takes on the overtones of bigotry cloaked in terms of reasonableness.

Kai claimed that the letter had “broad support among its membership” and was the consensus of the group. But after Honolulu Civil Beat posted a copy of the letter and the membership list of the organization, several prominent Hawaii businesses were quick to distance themselves from Kai’s letter. (Star Advertiser)

Meanwhile, five more Hawaii Business Roundtable members have distanced themselves from the organization’s call to Lingle to veto the civil unions bill. The companies are:

» Alexander & Baldwin Inc., which released a statement yesterday that it did not participate in any discussion regarding the bill.

» Foodland, which said to supporters that it had no part in asking for a veto of the bill.

» Hawaii Pacific Health, which in a letter to civil union supporters said it does not endorse the letter.

» Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals Inc., which sent a letter to Lingle, citing the company’s policies on nondiscrimination.

» Kyo-ya Company LLC, which said in a letter to supporters and Lingle that it was “disappointed” with the letter.

These were not alone. (Star Advertiser)

Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health insurer, and Hawaii National Bank were the latest Business Roundtable members to speak out, saying they were not informed of the letter until after it became public. Five Roundtable members issued statements Thursday disassociating themselves from the letter.

Robert P. Hiam, HMSA president and chief executive officer, said the insurer takes a strong stance on the issue.

“Our organization opposes discrimination on any basis, and in keeping with that philosophy, had we been consulted on this matter, we would not have supported the decision to call for a veto of HB (House Bill) 444,” Hiam said in a letter to Carolyn Martinez Golojuch, president of the equal-rights group PFLAG-Oahu, who made the statement public.

But Kai – using a common ploy of anti-gay activists – claims that he doesn’t oppose civil unions in general, just these civil unions.

“Unfortunately, the use of the word veto has become equivalent to some, as a position against civil unions,” Kai wrote.

Funny, that. Further, Mr. Kai claims that he has the support of the executive committee of the Hawaii Business Roundtable. To date there are no news reports that the executive committee members disagree. They are:

David Carey
President & CEO
Outrigger Enterprises

H. Mitchell D’Olier
President & CEO
Kaneohe Ranch Company

Donald G. Horner
President & CEO
First Hawaiian Bank

Allan Landon
President & CEO
Bank of Hawaii

Constance Lau
President & CEO
HEI

Dee Jay Mailer
Chief Executive Officer
Kamehameha Schools

Nate Smith
President
Oceanic Cablevision Inc.

Arthur A. Ushijima
President & CEO
Queens Health Systems

Allen Uyeda
President & CEO
First Insurance Co of Hawaii

Harry Saunders
President
Castle & Cook Hawaii

Considering the nature of some of the businesses represented on the executive committee, I am not convinced that Mr. Kai’s desire to oppose these civil unions is as supported as he supposes. Banks and hotels, for example, do not like it when customers think that they support discrimination and executives of corporations tend to look for ways to earn loyal employees, not harm their lives.

Further employers often take into consideration that corporate positions or actions on the part of executives that appear to be hostile to gay people can make a significant impact on a jury should any future discrimination claims be brought against the company. This can be seen as establishing a hostile work environment and condoning discrimination by supervisors.

If any of our readers work for or do business with these companies am certain that each and every one of these officers would love nothing more than to hear from you inquiring if they support Mr. Kai’s letter and share his ojection to these civil unions. And if so, I am convinced that they would like to hear in detail exactly why it is that you have “questions” that have “implications” and “complexities” involving doing continued business with their companies.

A Texas GOP platform that sounds too familiar

Timothy Kincaid

June 22nd, 2010

The Texas Republican Party has a long proud history of blatant homophobia. In 1998, Log Cabin, the gay Republican group, was denied booth space at the state convention. At the 2000 Republican National Convention when gay congressman Jim Kolbe took to the podium to speak about foreign policy, the delegates from Texas, in a deliberate show of disrespect, began “praying” instead of listening. Even though Texas GOP’s favorite son George W. Bush built his 2004 campaign partly on homophobia, he looks downright tolerant when compared to his fellow Republicans back home.

But now the Texas Republicans have topped themselves. In this season of ‘who can be the looniest’, the GOP has come up with a state party platform that sounds as though it was written in Kampala. Here’s what the Texas Republicans have to say about you:

  • Gay people are a threat to straights.
  • Gay people are trying to impose their values through “well-funded, vigorous political and judicial attempts.”
  • Homosexuality “tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases.”
  • Denying civil rights and equality to gay people “promotes health”
  • Schools should not be allowed to present a non-negative message about homosexuality.
  • Gay people should be denied marriage.
  • States which have chosen to allow gay people to marry should be forced to revoke such marriages.
  • No rights or benefits should be allowed or granted to domestic partners.
  • Tax laws should give preference to married heterosexuals.
  • Gay people should have their children taken from them.
  • Gay people should be denied health insurance.
  • Sodomy laws should be reinstated.
  • Those who attack gay people should not face criminal or civil penalties.
  • It should be a felony to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple and for any civil official to perform a marriage ceremony for such.

I do not wish to downplay the situation in Uganda or to suggest that the level of hatred and fear in Texas comes anywhere near the extent to which our friends in Uganda are threatened. But all of this rhetoric sound far too familiar to me.

The Republicans in Texas who wrote this platform truly to fear you and hold deep animus towards you.

The section on “STRENGTHENING FAMILIES, PROTECTING LIFE AND PROMOTING HEALTH” is included after the break

Read the rest of this entry »

When ADF speaks of children, who do they mean?

Timothy Kincaid

June 16th, 2010

The Christian Post has an article up today quoting supporters of Proposition 8. (I guess the millions of Christians who opposed Prop 8 were all unavailable today, but I digress):

“More than 7 million Californians decided that marriage should be preserved, not fundamentally changed,” said Brian Raum, senior counsel at Alliance Defense Fund. “If a handful of activists is allowed to void a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, we have gutted the core of the American democratic system and will deny more children the mom and the dad they deserve.”

This certainly isn’t the first time the “deny the children” argument has be thrown around. Actually, we hear it quit regularly. But today I got to pondering just how extremely stupid (and contrary to orthodox Christianity) this who notion is.

Who, exactly, are these children that are being denied a mom and a dad?

Is there some great kid factory out there that is sending kids off to gay couples instead of the “mom and dad they deserve?” Does Brian Raum think that if only there were no gay couples then the stork would deliver their kids to straight couples?

OK, so some children of gay parents are adopted. But doesn’t he know that without deliberate effort on the part of these same-sex couples to conceive that many of these kids would not only be “denied” a mom and a dad but they would be denied existence altogether.

Or perhaps ADF is either appealing for Mormon support by fully buying in to Mormon theology. Perhaps he believes that it is spirit children who pre-existed in Heaven that are being denied heterosexual parents.

Or, most likely, he is just repeating a really stupid catch phrase which only appeals to those who don’t have the capacity to think outside of what anti-gay activists tell them.

NGLCC severs contact with McDonald’s after deteriorating relationship

Timothy Kincaid

June 15th, 2010


It seems that our observations about McDonald’s and the company’s less-than-supportive “core values” are not without confirmation. After the 2008 AFA boycott, McDonald’s relationship with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has deteriorated.

Considering a string of broken promises and dismissiveness on the part of the company, the NGLCC sees the French ad as a cynical attempt by McDonald’s to capitalize on a gay-friendly market in Europe while simultaneously pandering to anti-gay attitudes in the United States. They’ve issued a letter severing contact with the burger chain and expressing their frustration:

After numerous conversations and frustratingly unfulfilled promises by Patricia Harris, Vice President and Global Diversity Officer, and Gus Viano, Director of Inclusion & Diversity, to produce and share McDonald’s plan to engage the LGBT segment, we have still seen no plan. As such, we have come to the conclusion that these individuals represent the real position that McDonald’s is not interested in doing business with the LGBT segment or engaging in any substantive dialog.

We strongly believe that McDonald’s plan to distance itself from LGBT and other diverse business segments, coupled with the release of the French TV ad, is ill advised and counter to the spirit of good business and sound ethics. We sincerely hope that McDonald’s will reconsider its position and that the company will again show its support for LGBT people, our families and our businesses — not just where it is politically expedient, but around the globe.

McDonald’s won’t market to gay customers

Timothy Kincaid

June 15th, 2010

Don Wildmon, the American Family Association’s director, will periodically declare war on some company or other (usually for undecipherable reasons), get some coverage at WorldNetDaily, send out some fund letters, declare success! (again for undecipherable reasons) and move on to his next target. Back in 2008 the target was McDonald’s. It seems that McDonald’s contributed to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce which meant, somehow, that the company was “endorsing the homosexual agenda”.

When the company’s employee who was on the board of NGLCC moved out of the country, AFA declared victory.

A corporate executive for McDonald’s restaurants who had been on board of directors of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has stepped down following a boycott of the chain organized by the pro-family American Family Association.

McDonald’s officials confirmed today to WND that Richard Ellis, who had been named to the “gay” chamber board after McDonald’s contributed $20,000 to the organization, “made a personal decision to step down” after he accepted a new position with McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada.

At the time, I wrote this off as coincidental. But perhaps the AFA had more of an impact on McDonald’s than I thought. Or, as new information suggests, perhaps AFA’s message found a sympathetic ear at McDonald’s.

Now a new issue has arisen to get anti-gays into a dither, and McDonald’s response is disturbing. It involves a McDonald’s advertisement which ran on French television.

YouTube Preview Image

This charming ad – part of a larger campaign welcoming everyone to come as they are – is not offensive. It is not sexual or provocative or inappropriate. But to those who oppose the existence of gay people, the idea of welcoming gay youth “as they are” is an indication of an insidious homosexual agenda.

And McDonald’s has made it very clear that such a message will not be part of their US marketing.

Lisa Howards, McDonalds’s director of corporate media relations, told Media Matters that the “Come as You Are” campaign was made exclusively for France.

“The ad you’re referencing is one of a series of ads called “Come as You Are,” which recognized he diversity of McDonald’s customers in France. This particular commercial was produced by McDonald’s France and is running only in France,” Howards said in the statement. “Each of our 117 markets around the world determines their own advertising and marketing.”

Companies like McDonald’s have complicated multi-year advertising strategies that include corporate image, message, and theme and I certainly have no expectation that McDonald’s target-market specifically to the gay community. But there is a difference between less narrow marketing and a strategy that specifically excludes gay customers.

And now Don Thompson, McDonald’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, has made it very clear in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that this ad was a “mistake” and that McDonald’s will not market to gay customers. His religion doesn’t approve of gay people.

Tribune: A French TV ad featuring a gay teen and his father has stirred some controversy — not there, but here. Can you talk about that?

Thompson: It is an example that markets, cultures are very different around the world. (For instance), I’ve never shied away from the fact that I’m a Christian. I have my own personal beliefs and I don’t impose those on anybody else. I’ve been in countries where the majority of the people in the country don’t believe in a deity or they may be atheist. Or the majority of the country is Muslim. Or it may be the majority is much younger skewed. So when you look at all these differences, it’s not that I’m to be the judge or the jury relative to right or wrong. Having said that, at McDonald’s, there are core values we stand for and the world is getting much closer. So we have a lot of conversations. We’re going to make some mistakes at times. (We talk) about things that may have an implication in one part of the world and may be the cultural norm in another part of the world. And those are things that, yes, we’re going to learn from. But, you’re right, that commercial won’t show in the United States.

Tribune: How has it done in France?

Thompson: Interestingly enough, there have been no negatives coming out of France. The brand is a local brand and different things will occur in different parts of the world. We just have to make sure that we understand the impact one action may make on another part of the world.

So I guess McDonald’s “core values” do not include marketing to gay youth. Others should come as they are, but there won’t be any marketing to gay people in the United States. In fact, he seems to be saying that there will not be any more marketing to gay people anywhere from now on. It might “have an implication.”

When AFA came calling, Don Thompson was President of McDonald’s USA and there were “things he learned”. I fear that what he learned was that he now has an excuse for implementing his own bigotries and biases. He’s not “imposing on anyone,” he’s just upholding “core values.”

But perhaps McDonald’s has more to learn. Perhaps they need to discover that America’s youth do not share “core values” with the AFA or with Don Thompson.

And McDonald’s certainly doesn’t share “core values” with me.

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