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Posts for October, 2011

The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 7

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011

TODAY’S AGENDA (OURS):
Campus Pride College Fair and Prep Day: Boston, MA. Campus Pride’s College Fair is an opportunity for LGBT students and their families to discuss educational opportunities with participating LGBT-affirming colleges and universities. The fair features expert advice about LGBT-friendly colleges, scholarship resources and even effective tips for campus visits. The Northwest Region College Fair takes place today at Boston’s City Hall, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. More information can be found here. Future College Fairs will take place in Los Angeles (Oct 15) and New York (Nov 4).

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Columbus, OH; Indianapolis, IN and Kent/Sussex, DE.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Orlando, FL; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Tucson, AZ.

Also This Weekend: Iris Prize Film Festival, Cardiff, UK.

TODAY’S AGENDA (THEIRS):
Values Voter Summit: Washington, D.C. The Family “Research” Council, one of only a handful of organizations tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center for being an anti-gay hate group, kicks off its annual Values Voter Summit in the nation’s capital this morning with a breakfast talk by Mat Staver, Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty Unversity’s Law School. Members of Staver’s Liberty Counsel and law school staff have been implicated in the Isabella Miller-Jenkins kidnapping case, while teachers have instructed law students to ignore “man’s law” in favor of “God’s law.” And so as you might expect, the Summit just goes straight downhill from there. Other speakers include House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Rick Santorum. And all of that is before lunch, when voting begins for the Summit’s straw poll. Afternoon speakers include GOP presidential candidates Herman Cain, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, plus Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). The evening plenary session features another GOP presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), as well as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. The craziness just goes on and on and on through Sunday morning.

Exodus International Florida Regional Conference. Leesburg, FL. Exodus International will conduct a two-day conference with the theme “Chosen for Freedom,” beginning today and continuing through Saturday. The conference’s featured speakers include Exodus International president Alan Chambers, former Exodus president Joe Dallas, and former Exodus vice president Randy Thomas. Also speaking is Dr. Julie Hamilton, a former president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and whose book, Handbook of Therapy for Unwanted Homosexual Attractions, includes a final chapter by discredited ex-gay activist George Rekers. As we reported in our original investigation of Rekers’s “treatment” of four-year-old Kirk Murphy, Rekers claimed that he had successfully turned the “effeminate pre-homosexual” boy into a straight man. He built his entire career on that supposedly groundbreaking success story. Except there were a couple of problems: Kirk grew up to be gay, and he ultimately committed suicide over the lifelong conflicts he struggled with as a result of that therapy. Yet in Hamilton’s book, Rekers boasted that Kirk “had a normal male identity,” six years after Kirk took his life. Hamilton’s book with Rekers’s boast is still on sale at NARTH’s web site, and I have no doubt that it will also be available at the conference, which takes place today and tomorrow at the First Baptist Church in Leesburg, FL.

Minnesota Anti-Marriage Strategy and Briefing Session: Bloomington, MN. The Minnesota Faith and Freedom Coalition, supporters of the latest proposed constitutional amendment to make same-sex marriage even more illegaler in the Gopher state, will hold a Strategy and Briefing Session at the Doubletree Inn in Bloomington, MN this morning from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Invited speakers include GOP presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and former Christian Coalition honcho Ralph Reed.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Family “Research” Council Stays Classy On DADT Repeal

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2011

Of course, I kid. The Family “Research” Council is having a total meltdown, warning that the military is about to drown in a pool of “HIV-tainted blood”:

FRC will continue to monitor the consequences of this reversal of 236 years of American military policy, limit the damage–and demand that the Defense Department do the same. Expect to see celebrations from homosexual groups and fawning stories in the media about how “the sky has not fallen.” That’s only because there will be no press releases from the new victims of sexual harassment or assault, the soldiers exposed to HIV-tainted blood, the thousands of servicemembers who choose not to reenlist rather than forfeit their freedom of speech and religion, and the untold number of citizens who choose never to join the military. It’s clear this President is more interested in appeasing sexual revolutionaries than in fighting America’s enemies.

Matt Barber Says Gays Committing “Economic Terrorism” And Want To Jail Christians. Meanwhile, AFA Boycotts Home Depot And Wants To Jail Gays.

Jim Burroway

August 31st, 2011

There is a fundraising group called the Charity Give Back Group (CGBG), whose innocuous sounding name hides its political activities. When customers shop with major name-brand companies through their virtual shopping mall, proceeds go to CGBG affiliated groups including the Family “Research” Council, Focus On the Family, Liberty Counsel and others. LGBT activists have pressured companies to cut ties with CGBG, and so far Apple, Microsoft, Delta Airlines and Wells Fargo are among the big names that have withdrawn from the program.

Anti-gay groups are now crying foul over “homo-fascist” tactics, despite their own well-established pattern of boycotting companies who don’t fall lockstep into their program of anti-gay politics. Liberty Counsel’s Matt Barber calls the pressure against companies participating in CGBG “economic terrorism” with the ultimate goal of putting conservative Christians behind bars:

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it right now. The sexual anarchist lobby, this radical, militant lobby, wants three things in this order: they want to see those of us who hold traditional values and have a biblical view of sexual behavior and sexual morality; they want to see us behind bars. Absent that, if that doesn’t work, they want to see us discredited, our licenses, my law licenses revoked, unable to teach in schools and so forth. They want us completely discredited and marginalized to the fringes of society. Finally and included in that is the inability, they want to see people like us not able to make a living. And that’s why they’re going after these organizations and they’re using economic terrorism, for lack of a better phrase.

He might want to try to come up with a better phrase. In 2008, Barber joined with Peter “Porno Pete” LaBarbera and others for a bit of “economic terrorism” of their own when they announced a boycott of McDonalds and rallied in front of their headquarters. The American Family Association regularly launches acts of “economic terrorism” against such big name companies as Home Depot and Pepsi. And by the way, their jihad against Home Depot is on again, in case you’ve had difficulty keeping track.

And speaking of wanting to put people behind bars, AFA’s spokesman Bryan Fischer yesterday pined for the days when homosexuality was a felony in all fifty states and says, “There is no reason why it cannot be a criminal offense once again. Absolutely none.”

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LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins

Jim Burroway

August 19th, 2011

Observers of gay youth suicides can point to many different factors leading to their deaths. Fundamentally, suicide is what often comes when a person loses all hope of things ever changing for the better. Many gay kids who survive suicide attempts say that they reached their breaking point when they came to believe that their mere presence was disgusting, immoral, a gross pervert, and that the very thought of them makes people want to throw up.

And where do they get these ideas? They get them from the people around them. From classmates, teachers, preachers, neighbors, parents, relatives, and Tony Perkins. And Perkins is raising money off of it, with this fundraising plea that was sent out in the mail:

Now accepting blood money: Family "Research" Council's fundraising plea (Click to enlarge).

If you’ve not yet heard about this true story, get ready to be shocked–and to take action.

For President Obama to use the power of his office to promote such aims is truly appalling. I was especially disappointed to see pro-homosexual videos aimed directly at young people recorded at the White House. They were made in partnership with Dan Savage, a homosexual extremist who built a career on hatred of Christians and their values.

The videos are titled “It Gets Better.” They are aimed at persuading kids that although they’ll face struggles and perhaps bullying for “coming out” as homosexual (or transgendered or some other perversion), life will get better.

President Obama, Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, and many White House staffers recorded and posted “It Gets Better” videos on the first-ever White House web pages devoted exclusively to the so-called LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) “community.”

Can you imagine George Washington, Ronald Reagan, or any other president telling school children that it’s okay to be immoral and that they’ll eventually feel better about it?

It’s disgusting. And it’s part of a concerted effort to persuade kids that homosexuality is okay and actually to recruit them into that “lifestyle.”

Thanks for giving what you can and for praying for FRC–and for our nation.

He knows what he's doing

All of the names are in there: immoral, perversion, disgusting, appalling. And of course the rest of FRC’s mission is to drive home the message that gay people makes Tony Perkins want to throw up. Their solution to the youth suicide problem? More of the same name-calling from other kids and all of the adults around them — and even from the President and First Lady of the United States if he were to have his way. We already have several examples of the kind of messages Perkins would be perfectly happy with from one presidential candidate and prospective First Lady.

There is a saying that’s going around in management circles: the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I don’t think Perkins is crazy. I think he’s evil because I don’t think he expects a different result. He’s fine with things exactly as they are right now.

It’s just one more reason why Perkins’s Family Research Council is among a very tiny handful of anti-gay groups on the SPLC’s list of certified hate groups.

[via Right Wing Watch]

Conservative churches welcome homosexuals

Timothy Kincaid

August 18th, 2011

Tony Perkins, lead anti-gay activist at Family Research Council tweeted the following

And he’s right.

As long as you are a “homosexual” – as Tony and fellow believers define the term – the church doors are open wide. To them, a homosexual is someone who engages in sex with persons of the same sex, and has nothing whatsoever to do with attractions, instincts, love, or family. If you show up looking to be delivered from a sinful homosexual lifestyle then you are not only welcomed but celebrated.

Church members will joyously go online to leave comments on the Militant Homosexual Activist Blogsites reporting that the saving grace of Jesus healed a broken and wounded soul right that very morning. Of course, they don’t actually want to associate with that person, “do you know what he’s done? And he’s so very, well, flamboyant still”, but nevertheless they are happy to report deliverance.

Yes indeed, homosexuals are welcome.

Ah, but as for conservative churches welcoming gay people? The folks that do not believe that their orientation – that immutable, natural, and powerful force – is inherently evil? Those folk?

Yeah, not so much.

(hat tip: Joe My God)

Pawlenty, Santorum join FRC’s and NOM’s Iowa Bus Tour

Jim Burroway

August 10th, 2011

The “Values Voters Bus Tour,” sponsored by the Family “Research” Council’s lobbying arm, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Susan B. Anthony List, kicked off yesterday in Des Moines, Iowa, with the goal of hitting several Iowa communities ahead of Saturday’s GOP presidential Straw Poll. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was on hand for the tour’s start, which was greeted by a sparse crowd that appears to have been outnumbered by reporters:

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The bus made five more stops before the day was done yesterday. This morning, the bus tour resumed with a breakfast in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum met the bus.

FRC: Not Too Late To Block DADT Repeal

Jim Burroway

April 20th, 2011

The Family “Research” Council never admits defeat. In an Op-Ed posted on Fox News, FRC continues to falsely portray the Pentagon’s survey as evidence that DADT’s repeal will be bad for morale. But when 70% believe that having a gay service member in their unit will have a positive, mixed, or no effect on the unit’s ability to “work together to get the job done,” it’s hard to see where FRC is coming from — unless they want to encourage the minority who think otherwise to make DADT’s repeal a problem for unit cohesion. Even chaplains are on board with the change.

The repeal’s full implementation is expected to occur sometime this summer.

Anti-Gay Activists React to DOMA Announcement

Jim Burroway

February 23rd, 2011

Brian Brown from National Organization for Marriage lost his already limited capacity for original thought and channels John Paul Jones:

We have not yet begun to fight for marriage,” said Brian Brown, president of NOM.“The Democrats are responding to their election loss with a series of extraordinary, extra-constitutional end runs around democracy, whether it’s fleeing the state in Wisconsin and Indiana to prevent a vote, or unilaterally declaring homosexuals a protected class under our Constitution, as President Obama just did,” said Brown. “We call on the House to intervene to protect DOMA, and to tell the Obama administration they have to respect the limits on their power. This fight is not over, it has only begun!”

Maggie Gallagher chimes in:

On the one hand this is a truly shocking extra-constitutional power grab in declaring gay people are a protected class, and it’s also a defection of duty on the part of the President Obama,” said Maggie Gallagher, Chairman of NOM, “On the other hand, the Obama administration was throwing this case in court anyway. The good news is this now clears the way for the House to intervene and to get lawyers in the court room who actually want to defend the law, and not please their powerful political special interests.”

Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who charged that allowing same-sex marriages would lead to an epidemic of violent crime, called Obama the most divisive President in US History:

Regardless of President Obama’s own ideological agenda, as President, he and his Attorney General have a duty to defend lawfully passed legislation, especially when the essence of the law has been upheld by many courts. Thirty states have passed marriage amendments affirming marriage as one man and one woman. Today President Obama has abandoned his role as President of the United States and transformed his office into the President of the Divided States. He has been the most divisive president in American history. He has today declared war on the American people and the fundamental values that are shared by most Americans. His radicalism resulted in the historical push-back in the 2010 elections. His radicalism today will come back around when the people respond to this betrayal in 2012,” said Staver.

Focus On the Family’s Tom Minnery wants Congressional Republicans to drop whatever they’re doing and pick up the flag:

“We would hope Congress uses the tools at its disposal to counter this decision and defend marriage,” Minnery said.

What should Congress do? Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins wants Congress to take Holder’s bait by dropping their “only interested in the deficit” mantra and reveal what many suspect to be their true colors:

“With this decision the President has thrown down the gauntlet, challenging Congress. It is incumbent upon the Republican leadership to respond by intervening to defend DOMA, or they will become complicit in the President’s neglect of duty,” concluded Perkins.

American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, who recently said that he would “fight to the last ditch” for marriage discrimination, has Perkins’s back:

“I think it’s a clear sign that we simply cannot avoid engaging on the social issues,” Bryan Fischer, director of issue analysis for the group, told TPM. “Mitch Daniels has called for a truce on social issues and that would be fine if the homosexual lobby was willing to lay down arms, but they’re obviously not and this proves it. A truce is nothing more than a surrender.”

So far, House Speaker John Boehner is staying on message and has declined to take the bait:

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized the administration change of position. “While Americans want Washington to focus on creating jobs and cutting spending, the president will have to explain why he thinks now is the appropriate time to stir up a controversial issue that sharply divides the nation,” said spokesman Brendan Buck.

Update: Potential GOP Presidential candidate and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee found a clever way to blame gay marriage for increasing the deficit:

Nonetheless, Huckabee opposes gay marriage on the grounds that, according to him, it destroys traditional families.  “There is a quantified impact of broken families,” Huckabee said. “[There is a] $300 billion dad deficit in America every year…that’s the amount of money that we spend as taxpayers to pick up the pieces because dads are derelict in their duties.”

The DOJ’s buddies – Part I

Timothy Kincaid

January 27th, 2011

There is an old saying that you are known by the company you keep. So the Obama Administration’s Department of Justice must be mortified by who has filed amicus briefs in support of their defense of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

In July, 2010, First Circuit Federal Court Judge Joseph Tauro ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act violated the constitutional rights of states to define marriage and of the rights of same-sex couples to have their legal marriages recognized. This ruling did not touch on rights outside of Massachusetts.

The Department of Justice appealed that decision and are arguing for the constitutionality of Congress to deny rights based on sexual orientation. They are joined by a Who’s Who of anti-gay activists such as National Organization for Marriage, NARTH and the Eagle Forum.

Considering that the administration officially wishes to repeal DOMA – or at least that portion found unconstitutional – the decision to defend DOMA is one of legal principle (though I’m not convinced of its necessity) that then of ideology. So, sensing that no one from the DOJ is likely to stand on the table and scream, “they’re filthy sinners full of perversion and disease who are defying God and should be punished,” they have plenty of friends to make that point for them.

GLAD, who is arguing the Gill case on the side of equality, had collected these amicus briefs on their website for your perusal and delight. But, on the off chance that you may not find defense of discrimination and heterosexual superiority to be delightful – or that you may not wish to lose your lunch – I’ll give you a synopsis and save you the effort.

The National Organization for Marriage was the first out of the gate. In an argument that surely would have impressed George Orwell, they declare that allowing the states to define marriage – as they have always done – would be a violation of the Tenth Amendment.

Whatever the origin of the misunderstanding of the scope of the Tenth Amendment, the court below turned the Tenth Amendment on its head. Rather than protecting against federal usurpation of powers reserved to the states, the ruling below would allow each state to impose its own definition of marriage on the federal government in a sort of reverse Supremacy Clause.

Well, I’ll say that at least it is a novel argument.

They ramble a bit about censuses and other matters under federal definition, but basically they call for a newspeak approach to federalism whereby it is best achieved by centralized federal control. Listing all of the ways in which the federal government violates the rights of same-sex couples, they present this as evidence of the government’s right to do so. They rant about bigamy and Think of the Children. This was not their best effort.

The certified hate group, Family Research Council, was up next. Nothing new or interesting here, just the same ol’ “no strict scrutiny required” and “them homos in’t got no rights”. But I’ll give Tony and crew props for perhaps the single most meaningless sentence ever entered into public record:

And no court has ever held that marriage, traditionally understood, extends to same-sex couples. [emphasis in original]

George I. Goverman, “a citizen and resident of Massachusetts and a member of the bar of the Commonwealth since 1970″, chimed in to bring up Baker v. Nelson. Perhaps he intended to file his amicus with Perry, but got confused.

He also has a unique presentation style; his argument is in Times New Roman but for case references he appears to have selected an Arial italics font. They are also different font size and don’t quite line up, leaving a rather jarring effect.

But having read countless “procreative activity” amici during Perry, this peculiar presentation was not quite enough to keep me interested. I was, however, amused that he appealed to George Orwell at his conclusion. I guess he didn’t read NOM’s paper.

Judge Roy Moore (of Ten Commandments fame) was here with his Foundation for Moral Law to “defend the unalienable right to acknowledge God as the moral foundation of our laws.”

After he informed the court that “the views of the American people as a whole from the beginning of American history through the present, have held that homosexual conduct has always been and continues to be immoral and should not be protected or sanctioned by law,” I assume that the judge will just toss this one on the pile marked “raging loons.” It seems that Moore hasn’t read a poll or opened a newspaper in the past decade or so.

But I hope the court does read Moore’s rantings. For this paragraph, if for no other:

From Biblical law and other ancient law, through English and American common law and organic law, to recent times, homosexual conduct has been abhorred and opposed; the idea of a “marriage” based on such conduct never even entered the legal mind until very recent times. Congress’s passage of the federal definition of marriage in DOMA had the force of that history behind it and several present-day interests that were asserted when DOMA was enacted in 1996, such as an interest in defending marriage and an interest in defending traditional notions of morality.

The Supreme Court has found that defending “traditional notions of morality” is not an adequate reason for enacting law. In fact, to do so would be to invite judicial rejection.

So it is definitely to our advantage to remind the court that the sole purpose of anti-gay laws – including anti-marriage laws – is based in a desire on the part of one segment of society to impose their religious beliefs upon others. It also helps that Moore quotes the Bible about abominations and such and makes a bestiality comparison. I’m surprised he didn’t channel Jonathan Edwards.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Judge Moore for writing in and making it perfectly clear that opposition to same-sex marriage is based in religious doctrine, antipathy to gay people, and – at least in your case – baldfaced bigotry.

Why Family Research Council was so furious to be called a hate group

A Commentary

Timothy Kincaid

January 18th, 2011

In December, the Southern Poverty Law Center updated its list of Anti-gay Hate Groups to include the Family Research Council and gave honorable mention to the National Organization for Marriage and Concerned Women for America. This did not go over well with the nation’s social conservatives.

Not much attention has been paid in the past to SPLC’s gay hate list. Most, like Traditional Values Coalition or MassResistance or any of Scott Lively’s three groups were so extreme and out of the mainstream that there wasn’t much defense that could be raised. And further, some were led by leaders like Lou Sheldon and Brian Camenker that, frankly, come across in public as not quite sane.

And some haters are convenient. Social conservatives can point at the Phelps family and say, “Thank God that I am not like that hater” and suggest that anything this side of a “God hates” sign is moderate and reasonable.

But this time SPLC’s announcement was not greeted with rolled eyes or casual disregard. Instead, social conservatives – from pastors to politicians – took to the media with harsh rhetoric and a desire to discredit SPLC. Family Research Council’s online petition drew a Who’s Who of religious extremists from Lou Engel to Linda Harvey to Brent Bozell. If anyone had every written a newspaper op-ed which railed against “the homosexual agenda” or put the word “gay” in scare quotes or called you a “degenerate” or a “pervert”, then they were there. So too were a couple dozen politicians including congressmen, governors, and a few potential presidential candidates.

The Family Research Council is well connected, and its spokesman, former LA state legislator Tony Perkins, has become the voice of the far right social conservative movement. Accusing him of hate is accusing the entire anti-gay industry of hate. And throwing in such activist groups as Concerned Women or NOM suggests that even mainstream anti-gay activism has hate involved.

But still, the response was so loud and angry. The religious right was furious and their reaction was way out of proportion to SPLC’s rather quiet announcement.

But if you understand Christian theology, you can see why. It’s because, by definition, a Christian group cannot be a hate group.

This is not just a “we good Christians don’t hate” sort of explanation or some “no true Scotsman” logical falacy. It’s not even a distracting platitude like “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Rather, the idea that a Christian group cannot be a hate group is definitional. And the authority for this definition can get no higher.

In the Gospel of John, written within the first century, Jesus is credited with setting up an amazing qualifier by which one either was or was not one of his followers. Further, he empowered this with a commandment.

John 13:35 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

By the words of Christ, one can either be his follower or be a hater. But not both. You may call yourself “Christian” and have all sorts of views about theology, but the one indicator that is a non-negotiable criterion is that you love.

And while this is in keeping with the overall theme of Jesus’ message as reported in the four gospels (love your neighbor, etc.), it takes a particular twist that can be quite troubling to those who operate as do FRC. Oddly, here, Jesus put the responsibility – indeed the right – of discerning who were his true disciples not on his followers, but on outsiders. The “everyone” here is not Peter and Andrew but, for example, the Southern Poverty Law Center.

So to be told by the SPLC that you engage in hate is to be told that you are not a follower of Christ, that your protestations of morality are, indeed, a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal, and that rather than being the Christian you think you are, you are really working for the Enemy of Christ. It is small wonder that that Family Research Council and their supporters are furious.

[In future commentaries, we will discuss the Christian definitions of love and hate, whether the SPLC got it right, and whether FRC or other conservative religious individuals and organizations can rightly be described and discussed using either word]

Fox News — Gasp! — Gets it Wrong!

Rob Tisinai

December 25th, 2010

How many factual errors can you find in this quote from Fox News:

Conservative groups and lawmakers are firing back at the Southern Poverty Law Center for releasing a new report labeling some mainstream conservative organizations as “hate groups” for their opposition to gay marriage.

In its latest report, the center added 18 “anti-gay groups” to its list of active hate organizations, including Concerned Women for America, the Traditional Values Coalition, the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage.

I see three mistakes:

  1. SPLC added 13 5 new organizations to its list of hate groups, not 18.
  2. SPLC did not add the National Organization for Marriage to its list of hate groups.
  3. SPLC did not add any organizations to its list of hate groups “for their opposition to same-sex marriage.”

Two sentences, three factual errors.  None of us seriously expect Fox News to be fair and balanced, but we at least expect them to be — well, I guess we’d best not expect anything good at all.

McCain Joins FRC Against DADT Repeal – The Politics of Slander Are Now His Values

Jim Burroway

December 21st, 2010

In 2000, back when Sen. John McCain was still a voice of reason and conscience for the Republican Party, he famously attacked the “self-appointed leaders” of the religious right, saying “the politics of division and slander are not our values.” But things change over the course of a decade. The Family “Research” Council, whose mastery of division and slander have landed them on the SPLC’s very short list of anti-gay hate groups, has announced that McCain will be working with them to figure out how to roll back repeal of DADT.

I’ve [Tony Perkins] already been in conversations with Hill leaders about holding hearings in the New Year, as well as statutory and legislative oversight steps that can be taken to turn back aspects of the repeal and slow down–if not stop–the rest. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and others will be working with FRC to put a strict evaluation process in place. We want to ensure that the Pentagon is monitoring the effect of this radical change on the men and women in harm’s way. One way to do that is demanding specific measurables–like tracking the sexual assaults, dips in recruitment and retention, combat distractions, and more.

In other words, FRC will be up to their usual dirty tricks with fake statistics, and Sen. McCain will be all too happy to support them. That’s a far cry from 2000, when McCain traveled to Virginia Beach — Pat Robertson’s back yard — to denounce the very same thing that FRC has turned into an art form:

I recognize and celebrate that our country is founded upon Judeo- Christian values, and I have pledged my life to defend America and all her values, the values that have made us the noblest experiment in history. But public — but political intolerance by any political party is neither a Judeo-Christian nor an American value.

The political tactics of division and slander are not our values. They are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party and our country.

Neither party should be defined by pandering to the outer reaches of American politics and the agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton on the left, or Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell on the right.

McCain’s stirring call to decency came about after he had been attacked in a vicious smear campaign orchestrated by the religious right during the South Carolina primaries. When he was the victim of those attacks, he mustered righteous indignation and refused to take those attacks quietly. But now that those attacks are against gay people, well…

“86 Percent” of Tony Perkins’s Statistics Are Rubbish

Jim Burroway

November 29th, 2010

[Update: A couple of eagle-eyed commenters noticed something we all should have caught. This post has been revised accordingly. I love BTB readers.]

The Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins appeared on Chris Matthew’s Hardball on MSNBC today to demonstrate his outrage over the Southern Poverty Law Center’s adding his organization to their very small list of anti-gay hate groups.

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SPLC’s Mark Potok explained that the FRC earned its Hate Group designation due to the FRC’s persistent acts in demonizing LGBT Americans with false research and statistics. Perkins then set out to defend his group by demonizing LGBT Americans with false research in statistics:

If you go back to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a peer-reviewed reviewed journal, that stated that in self-identified… 86% of men, homosexual men, or who engage… or men who engage in molestation of children, 86% of them identified as homosexual or bisexual. That study has not been refuted.

The study was not “refuted,” in Perkins’ terminology, simply because the finding was not considered to be significant, not even by its authors. The study, “Behavior patterns of child molesters” by W.D. Erickson, N.H. Walbek, and R.K. Seely which appeared more than twenty years ago (1988, to be exact), didn’t set out to determine the sexual orientation of child molesters. The study, of 229 convicted child molesters in Minnesota, (which, by the way, was never intended to be nationally representative in any way) was focused on the types of sexual contact the men engaged in with their victims — vaginal or anal penetration, oral contact, and so forth. In this particular sample, 63 victims were male, and 166 victims were female.

But the “finding” that Perkins and company found so exciting is encapsulated in just one sentence: “Eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.” (emphasis mine.)

That’s right, one lone sentence out of a ten page document, buried deeply within the text. [Update: — and Perkins completely misquoted it. Perkins said that 86% of men who abused children — without regard to gender — said they were gay or bisexual, a claim that the authors specifically did not make.]

The authors themselves didn’t see it as a significant finding, and there are other good reasons for it. The authors didn’t delve into the adult relationship makeup of these offenders, nor did they disclose what criteria the offenders used in their self-labeling. The authors also didn’t try to investigate whether there was any validity to their self-labeling.

And this, too, is important, because child sexual abuse experts understand that abusers often have little to no sexual attraction to other adults of any gender, which means that in clinical terms they are actually pedophiles rather than homosexual or bisexual. And while many pedophiles will identify themselves using the language of heterosexual/homosexual/bisexual, their crimes are no more relevant to LGBT equality than the prevalence of heterosexuals among rapists are relevant to straight people.

This study did not investigate sexual orientation. It did set out to answer the questions that the investigators sought to answer, which was what kind of sexual contact did offenders initiate with their victims? FRC, however, took a single sentence from a study that did not try to investigate the sexual orientation of offenders, and amplified a throw-away line as though it were the entire study’s reason for being. And because it didn’t investigate sexual orientation, it’s illegitimate to to amplify one lone throw-away sentence into “overwhelming scientific evidence” — those are Tony Perkin’s words — that gays are a threat to children.

The reason the FRC is legitimately a part of the SPLC’s list of hate groups is their penchant for taking one line from a study out of context, and present that single sentence as being somehow more significant than the tons of studies that experts in the field of child sexual abuse have conducted through the ages. We have summarized many of those findings in our report, Testing the Premise: Are Gays a Threat To Our Children? Interestingly, that report was prompted, in part, by a specious tract put out by the FRC a few years earlier. That specific tract has been withdrawn, but not because they woke up and realized their so-called “research” was bogus. They still hold to their false linkages between homosexuality and child sexual abuse here and, more significantly, here (PDF: 312KB/22 pages).

Oh, and nice touch there, when Tony Perkins adds, “If you look at the American College of Pediatricians, they say the research is overwhelming that homosexuality poses a risk to children.”

The American College of Pediatricians is a rump political group formed in 2002 in response to the much, much larger American Academy of Pediatrics’ statement in support for LGBT parental rights. The AAP is made up of some 60,000 members who know more than just about anyone what’s best for children. The American College of Pediatricians, on the other hand, is made up of a couple hundred dissenters who, by judging from their web site, are mainly concerned with homosexuality more than the plethora of childhood health issues that your average pediatrician is much more likely to care about.

When the SPLC announced that they were adding the FRC to their small list of anti-gay hate groups, they cited the FRC’s “propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling.” Tony Perkins responded by providing convincing proof of the SPLC’s allegations. And he did it with the slightest hint of embarrassment.

FRC values anti-gay conformity more than pro-life advocacy

Timothy Kincaid

November 2nd, 2010

The Family “Research” Council sees itself as a protector of conservative social values, specifically by opposing abortion rights and equality for gay Americans. But it appears that FRC has a hierarchy in their social agenda and they may well value partisan conformity to anti-gay positions more than they value “the inherent dignity of every human life from conception.” (Times-Picayune)

The conservative Family Research Council Action PAC has launched a last-minute radio ad campaign against Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, R-New Orleans, for his support of gay rights.

Cao co-sponsored both the Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2009 and House legislation to repeal the policy that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“I believe it is a human rights violation to impose government-sanctioned penalties on a group of people just because of their sexual orientation, just as it would be a human rights violation to impose penalties on a group because of its religious affiliation or race,” Cao said. “I will continue to fight for the protection of human rights for all people.”

This alone might not raise eyebrows. It would not be unusual for FRC to oppose pro-gay candidates. But it should be viewed in context: (FrumForum)

Further confounding is the fact that Cao is one of the most pro-life Republicans on Capitol Hill. He was only persuaded to vote against the final version of the healthcare bill because he wasn’t satisfied that it would not fund abortions. On pro-life issues, the National Right to Life has Cao supporting them on all of their five identified pro-life votes in the last Congress.

FRC is willing to give up a staunch pro-life vote, and replace him with a Democrat who is not likely to vote with FRC on many issues at all. Why is FRC trying to throw the election?

Because FRC is not just opposing Cao due to his gay advocacy; rather, FRC is furious that Cao dare be a Republican who supports gay people. Tony Perkins and FRC are desperate to hold onto the Republican Party and keep gay equality as a partisan issue for as long as possible. His biggest fear is that it will soon become acceptable for elected Republicans to be pro-gay; when that happens, the battle will be over.

Suicide, Responsibility, and the Teenaged Brain

Rob Tisinai

October 28th, 2010

Anti-gay activists are working hard to duck responsibility for anti-gay bullying and teen suicides. These attempts occasionally veer into sheer lunacy, as when they claim gay teens are in despair because society is too accepting of homosexuality. But there’s one dodge I find particularly offensive. From the comments on NOM’s Facebook page:

The only people responsible for the suicides are the people that comitted them.

Nobody forces anyone to take his own life; ergo, only those who commit suicide are responsible.

Each person is responsible 4 their own actions. U make believe u r gay. God did not make u gay & He does not make u commit sucicide. nor does anyone else

I don’t know if gay is always a choice, or not. But suicide is ALWAYS a choice. The ultimate cop-out.

To be fair, I don’t see this from polished anti-gay leaders. But it’s all over the comments on their web pages and blogs. It’s a strange argument coming from conservatives, who generally believe teenagers require strict discipline and are still learning to make wise decisions. They think a 15-year-old like Billy Lucas can’t handle alcohol, a car, the vote, or serving in the military, but he’ll have no trouble hearing that in the core of his being he’s an abomination, a pervert, an affront to God.

We have good reason not to trust kids to their own judgment when it comes to the big stuff. The human brain isn’t mature until it’s 23 to 25 years old. Through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists are now able to track blood flow — and therefore activity — in the brains of adults and teens as they confront information and solve problems. The science is new, but some differences are clear:

Between childhood and adulthood, the brain’s “wiring diagram” becomes richer, more complex and more efficient, especially in the brain’s frontal lobe, or front outer mantle, which is the seat of such higher order functions as learning and socialization. An important part of the frontal lobes is the prefrontal cortex (PFC), which is often referred to as the “CEO” or executive of the brain and is responsible for such skills as setting priorities, organizing plans and ideas, forming strategies, controlling impulses, and allocating attention. New research suggests that the PFC is one of the last areas of the brain to fully mature…

[O]ne key MRI study found that when identifying emotions expressed on faces, teens more often activated their amygdala—the brain area that experiences fear, threat and danger— whereas adults more often activated their prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain linked more to reason and judgment—and performed better on the task. Behaviorally, the adult’s responses were more intellectual, the teens’ more from the gut. These findings and others suggest that although the plasticity and changeability of the adolescent brain are extremely well suited to meet the demands of teen life, guidance from parents and other adult institutions are essential while decision-making circuitry is being formed.

Impulse control, planning and decisionmaking are largely frontal cortex functions that are still maturing during adolescence…[O]ne reason adolescents may have difficulty inhibiting inappropriate impulses is that the circuitry needed for such control is not fully mature in early adolescence, thereby making such tasks relatively difficult.

In short, kids have less impulse control than adults, and they listen to their gut when processing emotional cues.

Adults: prefrontal cortex

Teens: amygdala

Imagine then that you’re a gay teen, and you’re watching this Jimmy Swaggart broadcast with your parents, who have demonized gays in front of you all your life. Look at Swaggart’s face as he speaks. Take in his “emotional cues.” Hear your parents murmuring “Mm hmm. That’s right.”

Imagine reacting from your gut, not your intellect. Imagine your brain has only limited impulse control.

Imagine all that — as the only life you know.

Maggie Gallagher wants to know if she has blood on her hands. Jimmy Swaggart. Peter Sprigg. Tony Perkins. Bryan Fischer. Linda Harvey. Whether you’re calling us an abomination, or phrasing it more gently (like Maggie) and merely saying we can never feel the love that a man and a woman can. You all have blood on your hands.

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