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Posts for January, 2009

Anti-Marriage Amendment To Be Introduced In Indiana

Jim Burroway

January 12th, 2009

We were tipped to this press release from the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund announcing a press conference on a proposed anti-marriage amendment for Indiana. State Reps. P. Eric Turner (R-Marion) and Dave Cheatham (D-North Vernon) are listed as co-sponsors for the amendment during for the current General Assembly session. Also participating at the press conference are unnamed representatives from the Family Research Council and the Indiana Family Institute.

[Hat tip: Mike]

FRC, Focus Battle For Soul of the GOP

Jim Burroway

January 5th, 2009

There is a battle going on right now for the soul of the Republican Party — at least for the chairmanship for the GOP. At least six contenders are in the race right now, including former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, and former Mike Huckabee campaign manager Chip Saltsman, who are battling for the top spot in order to steer the party to a much harder social-conservative line. The other contenders include former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, Michigan Republican Party Chairman Saul Anuzis, and current RNC Chairman Mike Duncan are vying for votes among the GOP’s more secular, fiscally-conservative members.

Saltsman has come under fire for having sent out a Christmas greeting to RNC members with a music CD containing a song called “Barack the Magic Negro.” That pretty much leaves Blackwell standing unscathed among social conservatives. So over the weekend, Focus On the Family and the Family Research Council have weighed in Blackwell as their favored candidate. Not too surprising, since Blackwell is already an FRC employee, serving as a “Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment,” whatever that means. But for good measure, he has also picked up James Dobson’s endorsement.

We know Blackwell for his heavy involvement in Ohio’s draconian anti-marriage amendment campaign, during which he compared gays and lesbians to “barnyard animals.”

Newsweek Essay Draws Howls of Protest

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2008

Anti-gay activists are pulling their hair out over Lisa Miller’s essay in Newsweek, in which she lays out a religious case for same-sex marriage. She opens her essay by saying, “Opponents of gay marriage often cite Scripture. But what the Bible teaches about love argues for the other side.”

As you can imagine, that didn’t go over well with one particular segment of Christianity. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a member of the Focus on the Family Board of Directors, wrote:

Many observers believe that the main obstacle to this agenda [of allowing same-sex marriage] is a resolute opposition grounded in Christian conviction. Newsweek clearly intends to reduce that opposition.”

That was one of the calmer reactions. Tony Perkins of the Family “Research” Council denounced it as “yet another attack on orthodox Christianity.” The Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association called it “one of the most biased and distorted pieces concerning homosexual marriage ever published by any major news organization.” Not surprisingly, he also is calling on his followers to inundate Newsweek with emails.

And Peter LaBarbera, not one to be outdone, called the essay a “scandalous hit piece” and an “embarrassing attempt to make a Biblical case for sodomy-based ‘marriage.’” (See why we have an award named in his honor?) And Peter’s pal, Matt Barber responded, “You know, scripture says woe to those who call evil good and good evil, and I say woe to Newsweek for even printing this drivel.”

Part of the outrage stems from the fact that anti-gay activists have tried for years to couch their opposition to same-sex marriage on sociological research to make their point — research that, as we have pointed out many times, they have distorted with amazing consistency. But by calling on science instead of the Bible, they seek to inoculate themselves from charges of trying to impose their religious views on others. “See? We’re not religious zealots. Science supports us,” they like to say. Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, repeated this line in saying, “The arguments that are used are often not biblical arguments. They are secular arguments, arguing about marriage as being a civic and a social institution, and that societies have a right to define marriage.” And Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, claimed, “We’re not trying to take the Bible and put a bill number on it and legislate it.”

But when they are talking among themselves, religious arguments are firmly at the fore, whether it’s LDS Elder M. Russell Ballard speaking of the “central doctrine of eternal marriage” or Richard Land himself explaining with an apparently straight face that what he calls the global warning “hoax” is simply due to “cycles of nature that God has allowed in the cosmos.” Neither of these positions sound very scientific to me.

But the religious face is not the public face that these religiously-motivated leaders want to present. And by having to respond to Lisa Miller’s essay, they are forced to publicly defend the religious basis for their beliefs, which annoys a few of them to no end.  Watch how Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse pivots when asked about the Newsweek essay:

“Beyond the Scriptural distortion, the article distorts the pro-marriage and pro-family movement that is solidly grounded on sociological research about family structures that contribute to the well-being of women and children.”

She then goes on to mischaracterize what “experts agree.”

But the other part of the outrage also seems clearly aimed at someone who really did intrude onto their home turf. After all, in the same-sex marriage debates, only one small group of Christians are presumed to be allowed to use the Bible — when they think nobody else is looking. Anti-gay activists behave as though the Bible is solely their possession and no one else’s — including other Christians who read the same Bible and come to different conclusions. It’s okay for anti-gay opponents to turn outside their own sphere of authority — science — to make their point. But now that Lisa Miller has taken them on in their own home turf, they’ve let loose with their persecution complex and complained that they– and by extension all of Christianity, since they presume to speak for all Christians – have been “attacked.” 

Which reminds me of a great and appropriate graphic making its way around the Internet:

Prop 8: The End of the World

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2008

If California’s Proposition 8 fails, it’ll be Armageddon, and all that — according to Charles Colson and Tony Perkins:

“This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon,” said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries and an eminent evangelical voice, speaking to pastors in a video promoting Proposition 8. “We lose this, we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion.”

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobby based in Washington, said in an interview, “It’s more important than the presidential election.”

“We’ve picked bad presidents before, and we’ve survived as a nation,” said Mr. Perkins, who has made two trips to California in the last six weeks. “But we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage.”

Why the doom and gloom? Prop 8 proponents are now raising the scare tactic that Prop 8′s passage will mean that churches that refuse to marry same-sex couples will be sued, or ministers will be jailed if they preach against homosexuality.

This, of course, is not possible in the United States because of the First amendment. Christian Identity churches are free to preach White Supremacy and anti-semitism, and fundamentalist protestant extremists are free to call the Pope the Anti-Christ. Nobody gets thrown in jail for any of that. And the Catholic Church has been free to refuse to marry anyone who has been divorced, no matter how many divorce papers or civil marriage licenses a couple can waive in front of the priest.

Today In History: Rest In Peace

Jim Burroway

October 16th, 2008

Ten years ago today, family and friends were gathering in Casper, Wyoming, to say their final good-byes to Matthew Shepard. Earlier that morning, Matthew’s parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard, met with reporters before the funeral for a very brief public statement. Choking back tears, Dennis said:

On behalf of our son Matthew Shepard, we want to thank the citizens of the United States, and the people of the world, who have expressed their deepest sympathy and condolences to our family during these trying times. A person as caring and loving as our son Matt would be overwhelmed by what this incident has done to the hearts and souls of people around the world… We are honored and touched beyond measure…

Please understand and respect my family’s request for a private and dignified farewell to our son today. Matt’s family and friends, loved him deeply, and we need to share a quiet goodbye to him. Matt himself would have been the first to honor another family’s request if this had happened to someone else.

We should try to remember that because Matt’s last few minutes of consciousness on earth may have been hell, his family and friends want more than ever to say their farewells to him in a peaceful, dignified and loving manner.

By all accounts, Matt’s funeral at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was peaceful, dignified and loving. Only selected friends and family were allowed to attend, in an attempt to keep the service quiet and private.

The scene outside the church was in equal parts dignified and circus-like. Crowds of mourners stood quietly in the gentle snowy weather to pay their respects, while police, reporters, photographers and satellite trucks buzzed around them.

A short distance away stood a contingent of protesters from Fred Phelps’ notorious Westboro Baptist Church. They were there holding signs that read, “God hates fags,” and “Matt In Hell.” But they were surrounded and shielded from the church by counter-protesters — for want of a better word — who fashioned large white bedsheets into giant angel wings.

While Westboro’s tactics were the most talked-about example of anti-gay extremism on display that day, they weren’t entirely alone. Ten years ago today also saw Robert Knight’s Family Research Council use the occasion of Matt’s funeral to denounce Phelps — and to boast about their part in the ex-gay advertising blitz that had begun the day before Matt’s murder. The FRC’s statement condemned Phelps’ tactics while sharing his message of condemning Matthew to hell:

While we share Mr. Phelps’ opposition to the homosexual political agenda, his belief that homosexuality is a sin, and his call for punishment of Mr. Shepard’s killers, we do not endorse his tactics, and have asked his group to stop letting themselves be used by the media to crudely caricature Christians.

The ‘truth in love’ media campaign reaches out to people struggling with homosexuality and offers them hope for change and redemption. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, homosexuals are included in a list of sinners, who, if unrepentant, will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ten years have passed since Matthew Shepard has been laid to rest. Where are we at today?

One thing is undeniable. We’ve made great strides in changing how people view LGBT people. More people are “out” than ever before, living openly for the most part in relative safety.

And yet, too many things still haven’t changed. It is still legal to fire people from their jobs for being gay. Marriage rights are only secure right now in one state. Wyoming is one of twenty states which still does not have a hate crimes law to cover sexual orientation. And the federal hate crime statute still covers race, religion, and national origin — but not sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

Yet official statistics continue to show that when hate crmes do occur against LGBT people, those crimes are more likely to be violent crimes when compared to other classes which are already protected.

In these ten years since Matthew’s death, we have continued to lose countless lives — singled out simply for who they were. We’ve lost Brandon Teena, Danny Overstreet, Phillip Walstead, Amancio Coralles, Satendar Singh, Scotty Joe Weaver, Daniel Fetty, Steven Domer, Roberto “Poncho” Duncanson, Sean Kennedy, Angie Zapata, Michael Sandy, Simmie Williams, Jr., and Lawrence King — just to name a very few.

As Judy Shepard has said on the tenth anniversary of her son’s death, so much has changed. Yet so much remains the same.

See also:
(Oct 16) Today In History: Rest In Peace
(Oct 13) Today In History: “Something In the Culture”
(Oct 12) Today In History: Matthew Wayne Shepard (Dec 1, 1976 – Oct 12, 1998)
(Oct 11) Today In History: The Vigil
(Oct 10) Today In History: Armbands and Scarecrows
(Oct 9) Also Today In History: Details Emerge
(Oct 9) Today In History: “We Just Wanted To Spend Time With Him”
(Oct 8) Today in History: Two Men Arrested
(Oct 7) Also Today In History: Another Assault In Laramie
(Oct 7) Today In History: “Baby, I’m So Sorry This Happened”
(Oct 6) Today In History: Before Matthew Shepard

Family “Research” Council: Racism for Sale

Jim Burroway

September 13th, 2008

The Family “Research” Council is putting on its Values Voters Summit right now in Washington, D.C., and it appears that among the “Voter Values” they’re pushing is Aunt Jemimah-like racial caricatures:

Activists at a conservative political forum snapped up boxes of waffle mix depicting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama as a racial stereotype on its front and wearing Arab-like headdress on its top flap.

The FRC claims they didn’t know that the packaging was offensive. It’s hard to imagine what world they live in where these images don’t conjure ugly racial stereotypes from the earliest part of the 20th century. The horribly racist images run rampant throughout the packaging, proving this FRC-sanctioned vendor to be an equal-opportunity offender:

While Obama Waffles takes aim at Obama’s politics by poking fun at his public remarks and positions on issues, it also plays off the old image of the pancake-mix icon Aunt Jemima, which has been widely criticized as a demeaning stereotype. Obama is portrayed with popping eyes and big, thick lips as he stares at a plate of waffles and smiles broadly.

Placing Obama in Arab-like headdress recalls the false rumor that he is a follower of Islam, though he is actually a Christian.

On the back of the box, Obama is depicted in stereotypical Mexican dress, including a sombrero, above a recipe for ”Open Border Fiesta Waffles” that says it can serve ”4 or more illegal aliens.” The recipe includes a tip: ”While waiting for these zesty treats to invade your home, why not learn a foreign language?”

Co-sponsors of the summit include Gary Bauer’s American Values, Focus On the Family Action, the Alliance Defense Fund, and — most ironically — Rev. Harry Jackson’s High Impact Leadership Coalition. Confirmed speakers include Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, Bill Bennett, Jeb Bush and Lou Dobbs. Dobbs, reportedly saw the box and loved it:

According to the the site’s blog, Lou Dobbs, who was also speaking at the convention, lauded the product Friday.

“My wife will love this,” Dobbs purportedly said. A photograph of Dobbs with a box and one of the sellers is online here.

The seller has since removed the online post.

The Books-A-Million bookstore is reportedly set to sell these boxes on their shelves.

Update: TalkBytes.com has the photo of Lou Dobbs posing with the Obama Waffles box that was pulled from the seller’s web site:

[Hat tip for the update: Pam Spaulding]

FRC Disapointed With Donnelly’s Testimony?

Jim Burroway

July 25th, 2008

You bet they are. Yesterday, right on schedule, the Family “Research” Council sent out their daily Washington Update yesterday as they always do. Washington Updates typically consist of three stories, and yesterday’s top story was one which blamed Elaine Donnelly’s utterly deplorable testimony before the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee on “rude congressmen” instead of  Donnelly’s own abysmal incompetence:

Rude Congressmen Tell and Don’t Ask at Hearing

For the first time since Congress beat back Bill Clinton’s effort to bring homosexuals into the military in 1993, there was a hearing on the topic yesterday on Capitol Hill, which FRC’s Vice President for Policy Peter Sprigg and several Witherspoon Fellows attended. The Democrats in Congress are laying the groundwork for action next year, when they hope Barack Obama will be president, to overturn the law which codified the military’s longstanding policy excluding homosexuals. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, and Sgt. Major Brian Jones, a veteran of the Army’s elite Delta Force, ably defended the law in the face of shockingly disrespectful and even abusive questioning by members of the House Military Personnel subcommittee. Particularly egregious was the behavior of Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), who said that Donnelly’s concern about the impact of HIV-positive soldiers was “dumb” and that her testimony about behaviors common among homosexuals was “bonkers.” Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) used the silly line, “When did you decide to be heterosexual?” The false assumptions that people are “born gay” and can never change, and that homosexuality is equivalent to race, permeated the questioning. Yet no one explained how it would benefit the military to recruit service members who plan to commit acts which are criminal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This morning, that lame defense of Donnelly is gone, along with the rest of the entire Washington Update for the day.

Cameronesque Award: Family “Research” Council’s “Slippery Slope” Brochure

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2008

Cameronesque AwardThe Family “Research” Council is at it again, doing what they do best. Their brochure, “The Slippery Slope of Same-Sex ‘Marriage’,” which the FRC is touting in a recent action alert in their battle against same-sex marriage in California, is a prime example of the sort of “research” the FRC is all about.

It’s a lengthy brochure and it would take days to research the whole thing, but its entire premise is build on three specific claims. The first two are:

Relationship duration: While a high percentage of married couples remain married for up to 20 years or longer, with many remaining wedded for life, the vast majority of homosexual relationships are short-lived and transitory. This has nothing to do with alleged “societal oppression.” A study in the Netherlands, a gay-tolerant nation that has legalized homosexual marriage, found the average duration of a homosexual relationship to be one and a half years.

Monogamy versus promiscuity: Studies indicate that while three-quarters or more of married couples remain faithful to each other, homosexual couples typically engage in a shocking degree of promiscuity. The same Dutch study found that “committed” homosexual couples have an average of eight sexual partners (outside of the relationship) per year.

Both of those claims come from the same so-called “Dutch study,” published in 2003 bt Maria Xiridou and her colleagues in the journal AIDS. We’ve already published a full analysis of that report, but here’s the Cliff Notes version:

  • This study was not about gay relationships, as most people who misuse this study claims. Its purpose was to study how HIV is transmitted in the Dutch population. That’s why the study was based only on those with HIV/AIDS attending STD clinics. It is no more generalizable to the general LGBT population than heterosexuals with STD’s are representative of straight people overall.
  • This study excluded everyone over thirty — the prime age in which people are more likely to settle down and marry.
  • “Relationships” weren’t defined. Anything including a second date to a lifetime commitment could be counted. You simply cannot compare that to straight couples who are married as the FRC does.
  • FRC cites the study as taking place in a country with “legalized homosexual marriage”, but the Netherlands didn’t have anything like it when the study ended in 1998. Registered partnerships for same-sex and opposite-sex couples didn’t begin until October 1, 1999. A limited form of same-sex marriage wasn’t available until 2001.
  • And this is the most important point of all: Because the purpose of the study was to look at how AIDS is transmitted, all monogamous couples were specifically excluded from the study. Because monogamous couples aren’t transmitting HIV, they would have been completely irrelevant to the study’s goals.

And what happens when you exclude all monogamous people from the study? It turns out that when people say they’re not monogamous, they tend to sleep around. But it has absolutely nothing to do with those who are monogamous, or the broader population generally.

This misused study is one of the FRC’s favorites. At the end of our “Dutch Study” report, we maintain a list of those who misuse this study, and the FRC are repeat offenders — including in two amicus briefs that we know of before the Maryland Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of New Jersey. If the FRC has no fear of lying to the courts, then they certainly aren’t ashamed of lying to the public.

The third point the brochure is built on is this:

Intimate partner violence: homosexual and lesbian couples experience by far the highest levels of intimate partner violence compared with married couples as well as cohabiting heterosexual couples. Lesbians, for example, suffer a much higher level of violence than do married women

They base this claim on the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Violence Against Women Survey (PDF: 62 pages/1,475 KB) If you want to see how they construct this particular distortion, I encourage you to download the report yourself and we’ll go through it step by step. Believe me, it’s worth it because this is a classic example.

On page 29, you will find that when you only look at victims with a history of same-sex cohabitation and compare them with those with a history of opposite-sex cohabitation, then it’s true, gays and lesbians experience higher levels of intimate parter violence. But that’s not true for gay and lesbian couples.

To see this, go to the next page. Among women with a history of same-sex partnership:

  • 30.4% were raped, assaulted or stalked by their husband/male partner
  • 11.4% were raped, assaulted or stalked by their wife/female partner.

And among men with a history of same-sex partnership:

  • 10.8% were raped, assaulted, or stalked by their wife/female partner.
  • 15.4% were raped, assaulted, or stalked by their husband/male partner.

So here is what it all means. Many women with a history of same-sex partnership also have a history of opposite-sex partnership. Because of that, they are far more likely to report being raped, assaulted or stalked because it is the men in their lives who are doing the raping, assaulting or stalking, not the women. Same-sex cohabiting women were nearly three times more likely to report being victimized by a male partner than a female partner.

And here is where the statistic gets really interesting: 20.5% of women in opposite sex relationships were raped, assaulted or stalked by their husband or male partner. That compares to 15.4% of men who were raped, assaulted, or stalked by their male partners. In other words, gay men are safer around their same-sex partners than straight women are around their husbands or opposite-sex partner.

But if course the Family “Research” Council didn’t want you to know the full story. That’s what makes their “research” so Cameronesque, and it’s why they are such deserving recipients of our latest award.

Family “Research” Council Repeats Benkof’s Distortions

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2008

The Family “Research” Council sent an Action Alert out with this familiar distortion:

Michigan’s largest homosexual activist group says once marriage is legally redefined to include homosexual couples, business owners and even news media outlets that refuse to recognize such marriages should be jailed, or sued and “publicly slapped.”

As we reported earlier, the source of this piece of libel is Benkof’s column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sean Kosofsky complained that his remarks were taken completely out of context and misrepresented to say something which he did not say:

David Benkof is misleading folks about my quote. He selectively removed several minutes of our conversation between statements and did not disclose that. What I said was that if you break a civil law and you do not pay your penalty or you do not follow a judges order that you could indeed be found in contempt of court. When an individual is found in contempt of court a punishment for breaking the law can include jail time. I don’t know of any gay activist prescribing jail time for discrimnination. Although when you violate a court order you should be penalized accordingly.

And when Benkof tried to defend his distortion, Sean was more blunt:

David, it is flat out immoral to do what you did. It is not my responsibility to track you down to correct a lazy, stupid and inflammatory misrepresentation. You should be ashamed of yourself, your journalistic integrity and your misrepresentation of your agenda during our call. The right wing is using your article all over the country to smear my good name because of your sloppiness or outright slant. I did leave a correction at the LA Weekly sight so I did try to correct you. This is horrible of you to do.

We’ve come to expect these sort of tactics from the Family “Research” Council, and we have documented countless instances where they have distorted social science research and other sources. This is their stock and trade, as exposing these distortions is ours.

Now the FRC has found a comfortable bedfellow in David Benkof. They make a good pair, as I frankly am unable to see much of a difference between them in their tactics. Maybe we can soon chalk the FRC’s web site as yet another of those “prestigious” media outlet’s he’s a columnist for.

Truth In Upcoming “Day Of Truth” Hard To Find

A Box Turtle Bulletin Original Video

Daniel Gonzales

April 21st, 2008

The religious right legal group Alliance Defense Fund started an anti-gay “Day of Truth” in response to the pro-gay “Day of Silence.” The “Day of Truth” is little more than an excuse to push ex-gay misinformation on queer youth in public schools which prompted me to make a video examining and mocking ideas promoted by the “Day of Truth.”

YouTube Preview Image

Peter Sprigg Apologizes

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2008

Current immigration laws deny the foreign partners of gay Americans the ability to immigrate to the U.S, unlike their heterosexually-married counterparts. A bill is stalled in Congress which would address this problem. Last week, we awarded the LaBarbera Award to the Family “Research” Council’s Peter Sprigg for suggesting that instead of uniting gays and lesbians with their partners, we should export gays instead:

I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.

Today, Peter Sprigg issued an apology:

In response to a question regarding bi-national same-sex couples who are separated by an international border, I used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God. I apologize for speaking in a way that did not reflect the standards which the Family Research Council and I embrace.

Of course, the Family “Research” Council’s standards still allow him to cite the discredited “research” of holocaust revisionist Paul Cameron. No apology or retraction for that. Nevertheless, a start is a start.

LaBarbera Award: Peter Sprigg

Jim Burroway

March 20th, 2008

The LaBarbera AwardThese awards have been coming fast and furious lately. It must be spring fever or something. Or Sprigg fever.

Current immigration laws which deny the foreign partners of gay Americans the ability to immigrate to the U.S. A bill is stalled in Congress which would address this problem which forces families apart. The Family “Research” Council’s Peter Sprigg was asked about it and said this:

I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society.

Certified CameroniteThis “kick them out” kind of sentiment is definitely worthy of the LaBarbera Award. And today, we get a two-fer. Spriggs is also a Certified Cameronite for citing Holocaust revisionist Paul Cameron’s discredited research in his and Timothy Dailey’s 2004 book, Getting it Straight: What the Research Shows About Homosexuality.

See also:
Family Impact Summit: A Lesbian Shows Peter Sprigg How To Debate

More Anti-Gay Math Problems

Timothy Kincaid

February 26th, 2008

Perhaps we should pity the anti-gays; they have seem to have learning problems. I’m not saying that they are downright stupid, but they certainly do seem to be confused about math.

In response to a booklet created by the NEA and the APA called Just the Facts about Sexual Orientation and Youth, the usual suspects jumped in with their indignation and, well, ignorance. And the Christian Post was right there to give them a venue.

“Among the so-called ‘facts’ in the 24-page document is the opinion that homosexuality is ‘a normal expression of human sexuality,’” stated Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), in an email to FRC supporters.

I suppose it is amusing that this statement alone is shocking, shocking I say, to FRC’s supporters. You can almost hear the froth forming at Tony’s lips when he says, “normal”.

But the gem in the piece was this:

“Despite decades of activism and media propaganda promoting acceptance and celebration of homosexuality, and a number of political and judicial victories for the pro-homosexual movement, polls show that a clear majority of Americans still believe that homosexual behavior is ‘morally wrong,” said Paul Sprigg, vice president for policy of the FRC.

Well, unless there are two wacky Spriggs, his name is actually Peter, not Paul (or Mary), and he’s the darling of anti-gays such as PFOX. Sprigg is just chuck full of opinions about gays, all of them vile.

As it turns out, not only is Sprigg a raging loon, he also doesn’t understand mathematics. This is the result of Gallup’s annual poll (May 2007) of public opinion on the morality of homosexuality:

49% believe homosexual relations are morally wrong; 47% believe they are morally acceptable; with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

In other words, the numbers are statistically equal. But even without allowing for sampling error, 49% is not “a clear majority”, it’s a simple plurality. A “clear majority” would be a number above 50% which allows for the sampling error.

And those numbers are a year old. Which, if we look at the chart below, may well make a difference when Gallup runs its poll this May.

gallup.gif

Poor Peter (or Paul or Mary or whoever he is). Not only is it clear that time is his enemy, but he left out the other little facts which show that his battle is nearly over and it’s time for him to start sewing the white flag:

* In general, do you think homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of job opportunities? 89% yes; 9% no

* Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal? 59% yes; 37% no

* In your view, is homosexuality something a person is born with, (or is homosexuality) due to factors such as upbringing and environment? 42% born; 35% upbringing; 11% both

and even

* Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages? 46% yes; 53% no.

And, as I’m sure you guessed, these trends are not in his favor either. But somehow I think that someone unable to recognize that 49% is not a clear majority also won’t recognize that his brand of demonization and loud (false) accusations is losing badly.

The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins

Jim Burroway

December 10th, 2007

Good Lord, what should we make of this? I received an FRC Action E-mail from Tony Perkins, as I often do. There’s an article praising Mike Huckabee, there’s another one chastising Congress, and then at the bottom, Perkins says this:

An Assault On Faith
It is hard not to draw a line between the hostility that is being fomented in our culture from some in the secular media toward Christians and evangelicals in particular and the acts of violence that took place in Colorado yesterday. But I will say no more for now other than that our friends at New Life Church and YWAM are in our thoughts and prayers.

It looks like Perkins has been chomping at the bit to pin the blame for the Colorado shootings on somebody he doesn’t like. When it comes to culture wars, nobody is safe, and no tragedy is off-limits for exploitation. Here he chose the old familiar bogeyman, “the secular media.” We’re lucky I guess. It could have just as easily been anyone else.

I’m not sure how Perkins found it so easy to “draw a line” between the secular media and Matthew Murray, the Christian-raised guy who actually did the shooting. Unlike the FRC, we won’t imagine any lines where none exist. (Update: The most direct line so far may be mental illness.) And we call on the Family “Research” Council to live up to its name and do a little research before releasing statements that are so patently moronic. Why, they’re beginning to sound like someone else we know…

Here is a screenshot of the E-mail. Click on it to see the full-size version.FRC Action E-mail

See also:
Colorado Gunman Scared Co-Workers, Heard Voices
The LaBarbera Award: Tony Perkins
Prayers and Condolences for Arvada and Colorado Springs
Four Shot At New Life Church
Two Christian Missionaries Killed, Two Injured Near Denver

FRC’s Charmaine Yoest Joins Mike Huckabee’s Campaign

Jim Burroway

December 5th, 2007

The Family Research Council sent out this notice that Charmaine Yoest, the FRC’s vice president of Communications and frequent guest on several national news programs, is taking a leave of absense to join Gov. Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign:

I am pleased to welcome Dr. Yoest to our team,” said Governor Huckabee. “She brings with her an in-depth knowledge of the issues and policy expertise, as well as over two decades of experience in the conservative movement. Her addition represents increased strength both substantively and organizationally. She joins us at an important juncture as we are working to communicate our policy agenda for the future.

The various leaders and organizations which make up what we often call the “religious right” have had a great deal of difficulty coalescing around a single candidate for the GOP nomination. While many of them were sympathetic to Gov. Huckabee’s platform, few of them were willing to spend much political capital on a candidate who wasn’t seen as viable. But recent polls in Iowa have placed Huckabee’s campaign into serious play and the religious right appear to be re-evaluating their earlier assessment of his chances of winning the GOP nomination, and many are beginning to come on board. With this latest announcement, I suspect that trend will accelerate.

Family Impact Summit: A Lesbian Shows Peter Sprigg How To Debate

Jim Burroway

September 24th, 2007

It was last Saturday afternoon, and I had already endured nearly two full days of the Family Impact Summit in Tampa. You can imagine what kind of a mood I was in by then. And as I sat down to enjoy another dose of verbal gay-bashing at a town hall meeting called “Defending Marriage: What’s At Stake?” I overheard two people behind me talking about a small protest by gay activists that was taking place outside.

“Do you think any of them will try to come in here?” the older one asked.

“Nah. They won’t bother because they know they won’t be able to find anyone to have sex with afterwards,” sneered the other.

“Hah! So true!”

Nice crowd. These were the kind of people whose company I enjoyed for most of the weekend.

L-R: Rena Lindevalsen, Peter Sprigg, John Stemberger, Dale O’Leary

Only about 120 people took their seats in the sanctuary for the main even that afternoon. This session was conducted by four B-list speakers: Rena Lindevaldsen, law professor at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and associate director of the Center for Constitutional Litigation and Policy; Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council; John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council which is collecting signatures to put a gay marriage ban on the Florida ballot; and Dale O’Leary, a speaker and author who bills herself as an expert on the “lies” of the gay rights movement.

And when they began their panel, we heard about a two more hours of lies from the anti-gay movement.

I won’t get into all of them here – it would take a book to do it and they aren’t anything you haven’t heard before. But it mostly went like this: we’re all prone to mental illnesses and physical diseases, we’ve all been abused as children, we’re all substance abusers, and we don’t really want marriage because we don’t want it to interfere with our promiscuity. Dale O’Leary put it this way:

And so I think we need to understand is that the desire to live in a nice little cottage with a dog and two children and all the things we think of as parents is not their goal. That is their P.R.

But at least she was nice enough to note, “The fact is, they love the children they acquire.” But after detailing the supposedly horrible childhoods these “acquired” children endure, she concluded, “Nobody should be in the business of making tragedies.”

After the panelists had their say (after about an hour of this, I might add), the “town hall meeting” was finally opened up to questions from the floor. And the second questioner, a brave young woman wearing a red tee-shirt, was a stunner:

Hi. My names is Cathy James and I would like to challenge all of the individuals here listening today to really take a look at some of the rationale and some of the comments that speakers have given in regard to things such as …why government gets involved with personal relationships, that is, for the procreation of children. I think as most of the attorneys will tell you, that civil marriage was created for one purpose only, and that was property and how to divide property.

And so I am a lesbian, I live in the Riverview area with my partner of thirteen years and our son who is seven. And I go to work Monday through Friday and attend church weekly, I volunteer at the school, I volunteer at the homeowners association. And what I have a hard time understanding is why you are interested in keeping a legal framework from us in being able to handle the same things as heterosexual couples and such things as visitation, and hospital…. And how to divide our property in the same way, and how to parent our child?

The stunned silence was amazing. John Stemberger thanked her for coming and tried to stammer out an answer. He said that some forms of discrimination are perfectly legitimate (“home ownership benefits society in the way renters do not.”) and ended by saying, “marriage uniquely benefits society in the way same sex couples do not.” But Cathy remained calm and firm:

But in what way? What’s the difference in the benefit? How does your marriage benefit society more than my relationship with my same gender partner does not?

Peter Sprigg jumped in to assert that “without question” the best family structure was headed by a man and a woman. But Cathy persisted:

…But now you’re devaluing, what, over fifty percent of the children who live with one parent or that one parent as died or that they’re divorced and now they’re just living with one parent. You’re devaluing them and that’s not fair.

By now the panel was speechless, leaving Peter Sprigg to stumble around trying to get his footing. “Each person’s relationship choices serves as an example to the rest of society… and if that example becomes more widespread, more people will make the same choice, more children will suffer.”

So you’re saying a man and a woman in a marriage are valued higher than single people? They’re valued higher than…

Sprigg cut her off and instead of relying on his own outwitted wits, he decided to read from David Blankenhorn’s book, The Future of Marriage. And as he read, his voice rose, becoming more strident, more angry, more sharp with each word. “I would be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone who knows almost nothing about marriage has told me that historically marriage was all about property. That is nonsense!” But as he continued to spit out the words, it slowly dawned on him that Blankenhorn was talking about dowries and gifts to the bride’s family – which had nothing do with Cathy’s questions.

Clearly Sprigg is a man who doesn’t like having his reputation as an “expert” challenged. And it became obvious that he wasn’t up to this particular challenge. But he kept reading, vainly looking for the rescue that he was sure he’d find in Blankenhorn’s book. But it wasn’t there. He finally gave up and Cathy graciously thanked all of the panelists for their time.

For the two and a half days of the summit so-called “experts,” one after another, paraded from one stage to another convincing everyone who would listen that homosexuals would be the downfall of society. The solution? “Ordered Liberty Under God” went the oft-repeated battle cry.

But one brave woman burst through the bluster and showed that the emperors had no clothes. It was a wonderful moment, and for me the greatest highlight of the whole conference.

Did You Really Mean It, Alan Chambers?

Timothy Kincaid

August 21st, 2007

In September of last year, Alan Chambers was the principle author (with four other Exodus employees) of a book titled God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door.  On page 115, Mike Goeke offered the following advice:

Stand up for gay people. The church and conservative Christianity hasn’t been a safe, welcoming place for homosexuals. Oftentimes pastors and youth leaders make insensitive remarks about homosexuality or gay people. These remarks can be devastating. When you’re a witness to unkind words, or a judgmental attitude, or hate, stand up for gay people. Boldly and graciously confront injustice and hatred. Jesus always stood up for the sinner, and we should as well.

Which brings me to my as-of-yet-unanswered question: Why are Scott Davis, Mike Ensley, and Alan Chambers all going to an anti-gay rally next month with some of those who have been the most guilty of unkind words, judgmental attitudes and hate.  I cannot think of better illustrations of people who embody injustice and hatred towards gay people.

If you can’t “stand up” to these people, Alan, then just who were you talking about?  Why are you going?

I’m still waiting for an answer.

A Question of Company

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2007

See Update below 

A “pro-family” crowd is gathering in Florida next month at something called the Family Impact Summit to “inform and empower involved Christian citizenship”. They’ll be talking about religious freedom, racial reconciliation, global warming (is it global whining?), and life issues. Oh yes, and homosexuality.

Lots and lots and lots and LOTS of homosexuality. In fact, there isn’t a panel period that doesn’t have at least one discussion on homosexuality including:

  • Homosexual Agenda
  • Homosexuality and Youth
  • Homosexuality and Ministry
  • On the FL Marriage Amendment and how to do a petition drive in your community or church
  • New and relevant research on homosexuality

And who will be there? The speakers list includes some of the most strident homophobes in the conservative movement. Let me be clear – these are not just people who oppose homosexuality or same-sex couples for religious reasons. No, these are people who actively seek to dehumize gay persons by using derogatory language, lies, and false accusations. These are people who regularly campaign to exclude gay persons from the civil liberties and freedoms that they demand for themselves.

Let them speak in their own words:

Tom Minnery (Focus on the Family): There has been a recent attack on the freedoms of gay citizens in Poland. News reports indicate that many gay Poles are so fearful of the increasing violence and homophobia that they are leaving the country. In May, Minnery told a Polish “family” gathering, “[A]t this conference, we have taken great encouragement from the determination of the Polish people to honor the definition of the family. It is your strength that we have taken great hope from.”

Tony Perkins (Family Research Council) – “homosexual men are more likely to abuse children than straight men” and “homosexual behavior is a “death-style” that is sending young people to an early grave.”

Gary Bauer (American Values) –“Homosexual activity is not a civil right, it is a lethal and immoral behavior, and opposition to homosexual behavior is not a discrimination issue, but a moral one.” Bauer supports sodomy laws and not only opposes anti-discrimination laws because of “threats to religious freedom” but actually supports anti-gay hiring and renting practices. Bauer is believed to be one of the principal reasons that the Reagan administration was not proactive in combating AIDS.

Ken Blackwell (failed Ohio gubernatorial candidate) – Homosexuality “is a lifestyle, it’s a choice, and that lifestyle can be changed. I think it’s a transgression against God’s law, God’s will.” Blackwell also compared same-sex marriage to barnyard animals, saying “I don’t know how many of you have a farming background but I can tell you right now that notion even defies barnyard logic … the barnyard knows better.”

Don Wildmon (American Family Association) – this is the guy who lead the boycott against Disney for allowing gay people to organize Gay Days (an unofficial event) and against Ford for advertising in gay magazines. In the process he makes wild exagerations and unsubstantiated claims. His group also publishes the highly fictional and virulently anti-gay OneNewsNow. They push the video, “It’s Not Gay”, a rant about the evils of homosexuality masked as an ex-gay presentation. This video featured Michael Johnston who was later exposed as engaging in unsafe drug-fueled orgies while claiming to have overcome his same sex attractions.

Catherine Harris (Failed Florida Senatorial Candidate) – claimed the separation of church and state is “a lie”. “Civil rights have to do with individual rights and I don’t think they apply to the gay issues. I have not supported gay marriage and I do not support any civil rights actions with regard to homosexuality.”

Bob Knight (Media Research Center) – for many years Knight was the voice of Concerned Women for America. There was never an anti-gay position too extreme or a notion to ridiculous for Bob Knight to spout it out in the press. “They are luring kids into a homosexual behavior” and “There is a strong undercurrent of pedophilia in the homosexual subculture.”

Linda Harvey (Mission America) – “Professed homosexuals should not be allowed to teach or lead groups of youth” and “Open or suspected homosexuals should never be elected” and “The vast majority of people involved in homosexuality are projected by many studies to be people that are employed sporadically, because of their lifestyle. They are more unstable.”

Bill Federer (author) – “statistics show[] 300% greater incidents of child abuse in homosexual households versus traditional marriage homes” and “There would be no way to protect children from sexual predators if homosexuals were allowed to marry and adopt”.

Mike Heath (Christian Civic League) – this is the guy who tried to get others to help him identify elected officials who were suspected of being gay. “Homosexuality is a sin that arouses God’s anger in a special way” and “Individuals who speak out against the homosexual agenda often lose their livelihoods. Worse, gay activists have attacked, beaten, and spat upon individuals who protest their politically-correct celebrations of ‘diversity.’”

Peter Sprigg (Family Research Council) – “research clearly shows that homosexual behavior specifically and the homosexual lifestyle generally are associated with serious threats to the physical and mental health of those who engage in them”. His book, Outrage, reveals “the tangible harms and significant costs to society wrought by homosexuality — including higher rates of promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse” and “Homosexuality is harmful to society, and young people have no business committing to a sexual identity until they’re adults.”

Get the idea?

Along with this virtual Who’s Who of Homophobia there are a number of other speakers who seem to have been selected due to the one thing they have in common – extremist credentials. Surely, no one who is seeking to reach out to same-sex attracted people would want to have anything to do with this hate-fest.

Yet into that mix are added Scott Davis, Mike Ensley, and Alan Chambers of Exodus International and Dr. Warren Throckmorton.

Wait!! Really??

But aren’t these the same guys who claim over and over and over that the church needs to welcome homosexuals and help them reclaim their heterosexuality? Don’t they say that anti-gay language and bigotry have to go?

Huh? How does that fit with joining in a conference of noted homophobes which seems obsessed with a political agenda against the rights of gay people?

What do you have to say, guys?

UPDATE:  Dr. Warren Throckmorton has responded indicating that he will not be attending the Summit.  See his comments below.

Memphis Commercial Appeal Uncritically Repeats FRC’s Lies About Hate Crimes Bill

Jim Burroway

August 3rd, 2007

The Memphis Commercial Appeal yesterday reported on a campaign by Tennessee pastors pressuring Rep. Steve Cohen (D) to vote against the proposed hate crimes bill, claiming it will restrict their rights to preach against homosexuality. This follows reports that the Family “Research” Council is targeting Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) with automated “robocalls” in Nashville.

The bill, which cannot and does not overturn the First Amendment, addresses only violence and direct threats of violence. It does not address speech or religion or what anyone says in the pulpit — or anywhere else for that matter. How do I know this? I posted the text of the bill on my web site. Three times! Funny how the Family “Research” Council is too cowardly to do the same.

It’s a shame that the Memphis Commercial Appeal would let these lies about hate crimes go unchallenged. Fortunately, Rep. Cohen doesn’t appear to be swayed. “That Crime Bill affects acts of violence, not acts of thought or speech,” Cohen said. “It never has in this country’s history, and it never will.”

Holsinger’s Nomination Hearing: More Opposition Than Before

Jim Burroway

July 13th, 2007

I was just sitting down to write this observation about yesterday’s Senate committee hearing on Dr. James Holsinger’s nomination for Surgeon General when I saw that Frank Lockwood’s observations run very similar to mine.

Frank, at Bible Belt Blogger, compares Holsinger’s nomination to that of Harriet Myers’s failed nomination to the Supreme Court. Her nomination was immediately opposed by the political Left, and the more the Right learned about her, the less enthusiastic their support for her became. It looks like Dr. Holsinger’s nomination may be following a similar trajectory.

Dr. Holsinger had already raised flags with the Family Research Council over his previous support for stem cell research. And so during the nomination hearing he backed away from that stance and implied that his position is now more in line with the Bush administration’s.

But he also backed away from his 1991 paper, “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality”, saying, “That paper doesn’t represent where I am today, who I am today. It is not a published paper. It was not meant to be a scientific paper, not meant to be published.”

Frank noticed that this did little to endear Holsinger to the Christian Right. Concerned Woman Matt Barber responded, “We’re left not knowing whether Dr. Holsinger will put scientific substance over political correctness in dealing with the issue of homosexual behavior.” And the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins complained that Holsinger is “changing his tune”:

Dr. Holsinger’s confirmation should not fail because of his views, but because of his seeming lack of conviction on any of them.

But Peter LaBarbera’s not giving up on Holsinger yet. While he’s disappointed that Holsinger gave what he called “artful non-answers” when asked about his 1991 paper, he chalked that up to Holsinger’s political handlers in the White House. He and Matt Barber also smell a media conspiracy:

Enter the Mainstream Media. They are widely reporting that Holsinger has “disavowed” his belief that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “unhealthy.” They’ve apparently made that extrapolation based upon Holsinger’s above referenced quote (quite a stretch I think). Brit Hume, reporting on the Fox News Channel, said, “Holsinger also told senators in a confirmation hearing that he no longer holds the views about homosexuality that he expressed in a controversial paper in 1991, in which he called it unnatural and unhealthy.” Unless I totally missed something, he never even came close to saying that. [Emphasis in the original]

At any rate, it looks like Holsinger emerged from the confirmation hearing with less support than when he went in.

Update: Peter LaBarbera joined the rest and threw in the towel.

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