Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for May, 2013

French President Hollande Signs Marriage Bill

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2013

One day after the Constitutional Council declared that the marriage equality and adoption bill passed constitutional muster, French President François Hollande has signed the bill into law. This makes France the fourteenth nation worldwide and the ninth in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said the first same-sex marriages could take place as early as June.

In an apparent reference to ongoing sometimes-violent protests against the bill (another major protest is scheduled for May 26 in Paris), Hollande said, “I will ensure that the law applies across the whole territory, in full, and I will not accept any disruption of these marriages.”

France’s Marriage Equality Bill Clears Final Hurdle

Jim Burroway

May 17th, 2013

France’s Constitutional Council turned back a challenge by marriage equality opponents and gave its approval to the marriage bill passed by the National Assembly in April. After the historic vote, opponents appealed to the Constitutional Council in a final attempt to derail the measure before it goes to President François Hollande for his signature. According to The Local:

France made history on April 23 when it became the 14th country to vote gay marriage into law but opposition UMP deputies referred the bill to the Council, which has the right to throw it out if it is against the country’s constitution.

However “Les Sages” as the council members are known has suggested they would not intervene with the wishes of parliament and on Friday they stuck to their word.

A statement by the council said that gay adoption did not automatically mean the “right to a child” and that the “interest of the child” would be the overriding factor in such cases.

Hollande has said that he may sign the bill as soon as tomorrow. Marriages will begin sometime in June.

France’s National Assembly Gives Final Approval to Marriage Equality

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2013

Moments ago, France’s National Assembly gave its final approval to a marriage and adoption equality bill in a 331-225 vote. Opponents are likely to appeal to the Constitutional Commission for a ruling on the bill’s constitutionality, but if that effort fails, the bill will be signed into law by President Hollande and published in the Official Journal. France will then become the fourteenth nation to provide marriage equality for its same-sex couples.

The countries which currently provide marriage equality are:

  • Netherlands (2001)
  • Belgium (2003)
  • Spain (2005)
  • Canada (2005)
  • South Africa (2006)
  • Norway (2009)
  • Sweden (2009)
  • Portugal (2010)
  • Iceland (2010)
  • Argentina (2010)
  • Denmark (2012)
  • Uruguay (2013)
  • New Zealand (2013)

Same-sex marriage is also legal in parts of Brazil, Mexico, and in nine U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and three Native American tribes.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, April 23

Jim Burroway

April 23rd, 2013

France’s National Assembly To Cast Final Vote on Marriage Equality: Paris. After the French Senate gave its approval to a bill providing marriage and adoption equality for same-sex couples, the bill returned to the lower house to ratify some of the changes made in the Senate after the National Assembly passed its version in February. The National Assembly began debating the final version of the bill last week, and its is expected to complete its work today with a final, final vote. It can’t come too soon. Anti-gay opponents to equality have been whipping up a violent backlash in recent weeks, with assaults on gay people being reported in several cities. Opponents have also threatened the life of the National Assembly’s president, and warn of “blood” and “civil war” if the bill passes.

Assuming the bill does pass the National Assembly as expected today, its next stop might be a referral to the Constitutional Council in an effort to have the law declared unconstitutional. That would happen if sixty Senators or sixty deputies agree to refer the bill to the Council. If that effort fails or of the Council clears the law, it will then be signed into law by President Hollande and published in the Official Journal.

Delaware House to Vote on Marriage Equality Bill: Dover, DE. Things are moving rather quickly in the First State. It was less than two weeks ago that a bill providing marriage equality was introduced in the Delaware House. Within a week, HB 75 quickly moved from the House Administrative Committee to the House floor. The bill has 17 House co-sponsors out of the 41-member chamber. Rep. Melanie George Smith (D-Bear,) the bill’s primary sponsor, believes the House will approve the bill and send it to the Senate.

Rhode Island Senate Committee to Consider Marriage Equality Bill: Providence, RI. The state Senate is made up of 32 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent, so you’d think that a bill granting marriage quality to same-sex couples would be a sure thing, especially considering how easily it passed the House in a 51-19 vote in January. But the Senate is led by Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed (D-Jamestown, Newport), who opposes legalizing same-sex marriage and in years past vowed to block it from coming to a vote in the Senate. This year, she said that she would a committee to hold hearings on the bill, but she has previously ensured that the selected committee would deep-six any attempts to bring marriage equality to the Senate Floor. The bill today is before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Providence Journal is having trouble reading the tea leaves:

 But the committee will vote on bills that are different from those introduced weeks ago. The new versions were posted Monday afternoon.

One bill, S 38, is now identical to its companion bill in the House 5015, Sub B. Both would legalize same-sex marriage and contain expanded protections for religiously affiliated organizations that oppose same-sex marriage.

The third bill, S708, would put the issue before voters. But it no longer includes protections for individual small business owners who oppose same-sex marriage.

Hate Crimes Statistics Act Signed Into Law: 1990. Following strong support from the Administration and Congress, President George H.W. Bush signed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act into law in a ceremony at the Old Executive Office Building which, for the first time, included LGBT advocates, along with representatives from the ACLU, NAACP, and other groups that had criticized Bush’s record on civil rights. The LGBT representatives were invited only after agreeing not to turn the signing ceremony into an opportunity to protest the Bush administration’s AIDS policies. The law, which requires the Justice Department to institute a program to systematically collect hate crime statistics based on race, religion, ethnic background and/or sexual orientation, was the first federal law to specifically identify gays, lesbians and bisexuals. The Justice Department and FBI have been issuing annual Hate Crime reports since 1992. All reports from 1995 on are available on the web.

Sen. Rick Santorum’s “Man On Dog” Interview: 2003. In an interview printed in USA Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) was in the midst of blaming the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandals on liberals and the “right to privacy lifestyle” (which Santorum made abundantly clear that he did not accept), Santorum then cast his eye toward the pending U.S. Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas which would strike down sodomy laws later that summer. Santorum defended sodomy laws and lanched his most infamous polemic against gay families:

AP: OK, without being too gory or graphic, so if somebody is homosexual, you would argue that they should not have sex?

SANTORUM: We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does. It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution, this right that was created, it was created in Griswold — Griswold was the contraceptive case — and abortion. And now we’re just extending it out. And the further you extend it out, the more you — this freedom actually intervenes and affects the family. You say, well, it’s my individual freedom. Yes, but it destroys the basic unit of our society because it condones behavior that’s antithetical to strong healthy families. Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, where it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.

Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —

AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.

The AP reporter wasn’t the only one freaking out. Dan Savage wrote a New York Times op-ed calling Santorum out for his blatant bigotry. Noting that Sen. Trent Lott had lost his post as Senate majority leader over remarks praising staunch segregationist Sen. Stromm Thurmond’s (R-SC) 1948 presidential bid, Santorum was assured of escaping this outrage with no sanctions. “Unlike the former majority leader, Mr. Santorum didn’t slip up and say something in plain English that every good Republican knows must only be said in code. Unlike Republican appeals to racist voters, Republican appeals to homophobic voters are overt.”

Dan Savage, spreading the, er, word at the 15th Annual Webby Awards on June 13, 2011.

But a month later, Santorum’s comments were largely forgotten, except among the LGBT community. Lamenting that “the Santorum scandal didn’t have legs,” a 23-year-old reader of Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” column suggested holding a contest to “‘include’ (Santorum) in our sex lives–by naming a gay sex act after him.” Savage agreed, and invited readers to send in their suggestions. By June, the votes were counted, and a definition was promulgated:

Hey, everybody: We have a winner. Savage Love readers, by a wide margin, want Sen. Rick Santorum’s name to stand for… THAT FROTHY MIXTURE OF LUBE AND FECAL MATTER THAT IS SOMETIMES THE BYPRODUCT OF ANAL SEX! It was a landslide for that frothy mixture; the runner-up, farting in the face of someone who’s rimming you, came in a distant second. So congratulations to WUTSAP, who nominated that frothy mixture, and a big thank you to the thousands who voted.

The definition was created, but it still wasn’t obvious that Santorum’s name would be equated with the aforementioned byproduct. Four months after Santorum’s infamous comments and two months after the definition was created, the neologism was still struggling to catch on. It wasn’t until the end of the year when a new web site was created that SpreadingSantorum ended up becoming the most successful Google bomb in history. And with that, a callow comment which almost faded into history has become the name by which Santorum will be known for the rest of his life.

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?

Gunpowder Mailed to French Parliament President, Gay Couple Beaten In Nice

Jim Burroway

April 22nd, 2013

National Assembly president Claude Bartolone

This morning, France’s National Assembly, its lower house, resumes debate over a marriage and adoption equality bill, with a final vote expected to take place tomorrow. Also this morning, National Assembly president, Claude Bartolone received a threatening letter containing gunpowder and a threat of “war” if the house passes the bill:

The one-page letter, signed by “an intermediary of law enforcement,” warns Bartolone that “our methods are more radical and more swift than protests”, according to French magazine L’Express.

The document concludes with the statement “You wanted war, and you’ve got it.”

…”Allowing marriage for all would be the same as destroying all marriage,” the letter says, before making the chilling threat: “If you were to carry on regardless, your political family will have to suffer physically.”

Last week, Socialist deputies Sylviane Bulteau and Hugues Fourage were sent letters from anti-gay marriage extremists, threatening to kidnap and kill them or their loved ones, if the gay marriage bill is not withdrawn.

The letter appears to come from the same source as one sent last March to a judge investigating former President Nicolas Sarkozy. That investigation will now broaden to include this latest letter.

There are continuing reports of anti-gay violence breaking out in France. Last weekend, Raphaël Leclerc and his boyfriend were punched and kicked by three men as they left a night club in Nice early Saturday morning:

Raphaël Leclerc, via Facebook

“I left the nightclub with my boyfriend at around 5.35am on Saturday. We were not kissing and we were not holding hands,” explained the 24-year-old cabaret dancer. “A couple of minutes later there were three , who were shouting “hey gays” at us, and then they ran at us.”

The victim was then asked by his aggressors if he was French or Chechen. He replied French before being set upon. He was punched and kicked until he lost consciousness.


French Anti-Gay Protests Turn Violent

Jim Burroway

April 18th, 2013

France is in the midst of a national debate over marriage equality, with anti-gay activists predicting — and even advocating – violence in the streets if they don’t get their way. That violence has already occurred in the past month, and it now looks like it’s spreading:

Meanwhile in the northern city of Lille, three employees of a gay bar were insulted and injured late Wednesday in an attack by four men who smashed its windows. The bar’s owner linked the incident to “tensions” surrounding the parliament vote.

“I was hit by a chair,” thrown through the window, he told AFP.

Police later detained the suspects.

Ongoing right-wing protests in Paris and Versailles against the marriage equality bill have also turned violent:

Interior Minister Manuel Valls condemned acts of violence during the protests “in spite of promises made by the organisers”.

Several people were detained for questioning after cars and public property were damaged and police officers and journalists attacked, said Valls. Police put the number of detentions at 11. … The day before, some 2,700 opponents had gathered in Versailles outside the capital to protest the bill, leading to scuffles with police.

Police also detained twenty-four counter protesters at an anti-homophobia counter-protest.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and President Francois Hollande have condemned the violence and called for calm:

“Homophobic acts, violent acts have been committed. The right to protest is recognised by our constitution and accepted by the French. But no protest must degenerate,” Hollande said.

The National Assembly, Parliament’s lower house, began debate on the Senate’s final version of the marriage equality bill late Wednesday, and is expected to take its final vote on April 23. Opponents have promised more mass demonstrations next week.

Opponents Call for “Blood” as France Fast-Tracks Remaining Marriage Votes

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2013

As reported earlier, France’s Senate gave its nearly final approval to a bill providing same-sex couples marriage and adoption rights today. Because the Senate made some minor changes, it had to go back to the National Assembly for its consent, and then back to the Senate for a final vote. All of that was expected to take about a month, with a final Senate vote taking place in late May. But the ruling Socialists said the bill would return to the National Assembly by next Wednesday, which is far earlier than expected, and well ahead of a planned demonstration by anti-gay forces scheduled for May 26. That has opponents calling for “blood”:

“This is a disgrace. The French people don’t want this law, and what do they do? They speed up its passage. Hollande wants blood, and he will get it,” Barjot was quoted as saying by France’s TF1, adding “We live in a dictatorship. The President of the Republic has guillotined us.”

Centre-right UMP deputy Christian Jacob joined the fray, saying in a statement that by accelerating the bill’s now almost certain passage into law, “the President of the Republic is risking a violent confrontation with the French people.”

Fellow UMP deputy Hervé Mariton denounced the move as “an incitement to civil war.”

This rhetoric naturally is very worrisome to LGBT advocates who fear a continuing rise in anti-gay violence.

French Senate Approves Marriage and Adoption Equality

Jim Burroway

April 12th, 2013

The French Senate, in a show-of-hands vote, gave its stamp of approval on a package of legislation that will provide marriage and adoption equality for same-sex couples. The bill will go back to both the Senate and National Assembly for a final technical second readings in late May.

France’s beating victim becomes face of marriage movement

Timothy Kincaid

April 11th, 2013

As France concludes its drive towards equality, a victim of a homophobic beating has become the face of the movement. Earlier this week, Wilfred de Bruijn was beaten unconscious by anti-gay hooligans, and equality supporters have used pictures of his cut and bruised face in placards at rallies and social media to show the nation the consequences of the Catholic Church’s message of opposition.

Anti-gay activists, such as those at the National Organization for Marriage (which has strongly pushed and promoted France’s anti-marriage movement), pretend that they only support the sanctity of marriage. They seek to distinguish their marriage-for-anyone-but-gays movement from the motivations and attitudes that lead to violence against gay people, asserting (despite significant evidence to the contrary) that they love gay people, they just are looking out for children.

But de Bruijn very eloquently ties it together: (WaPo)

“What (the anti-gay marriage campaign) are saying is that they’re not homophobic: lesbians and gays are nice people, but don’t let them get close to children — that’s very dangerous. It’s OK for them to live together, but not like other couples with the same protection because it’s not really the same thing,” De Bruijn said.

“These people are all professionals of the spoken word. They know very well what can happen if you repeat, repeat, repeat that these people are lower human beings. Of course it will have a result.”

When such things as these happen, the anti-gays rush to denounce the specific act and claim no connection. “No, we love the homosexual, don’t blame us for the beatings and the expressions of hatred.”

But the connection is clear. The increased anti-gay hate speech surrounding the 2004 anti-gay presidential campaign in the US, the murder of David Kato following the Kampala Conference, and the spike in anti-gay violence in France now are not coincidental.

“It was not Frigide Barjot who was hitting my head, or the bishop of Avignon lurking in that street to attack us,” he said. “But they are responsible.”

French Marriage Equality Bill Passes Key Vote (Updated)

Jim Burroway

April 10th, 2013

The Washington Blade passes along the info:

The French Senate on Tuesday approved a proposed amendment to a same-sex marriage and adoption bill that would extend nuptials to gays and lesbians.

Le Monde reported the provision passed by a 179-157 vote margin after senators debated it for more than 10 hours — lawmakers on April 2 began to consider the same-sex marriage and adoption bill the National Assembly approved in February by a 329-229 vote margin.

…French lawmakers still need to consider the bill’s remaining provision before it receives final approval, but observers noted the same-sex marriage amendment was the most important hurdle that supporters had to overcome.

The marriage equality law is in multiple parts, and opponents of marriage equality have apparently proposed numerous amendments, according to John Avarosis. He says votes will continue to be taken on various proposals for another month or so. But the most important vote occurred today, making marriage equality a done deal sometime this summer.

Update: This AFP story says the final votes for the full bill will take place Thursday or Friday.

French Assembly passes marriage

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2013


France’ National Assembly has now voted to allow same sex couples to marry and adopt children: (AP)

President François Hollande’s Socialists pushed the measure through the national assembly, carrying a vote by 329 to 229.

The assembly has been debating the bill and voting on individual articles in recent weeks. The bill now goes to the senate, which is also controlled by the Socialists and their allies.

France’s Assembly votes today

Timothy Kincaid

February 12th, 2013

Having sat through some 5,000 proposed amendments, France’s National Assembly is ready to vote. Again.

After today’s expected victory, the bill will move to the nation’s Senate.

Marriage passes first hurdle in France

Timothy Kincaid

February 2nd, 2013


Today the French Parliament voted on a key element of the marriage bill. (France24)

France’s marriage equality bill cleared its first and main hurdle on Saturday when lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the most important article of the new law, redefining marriage as an agreement between two people of opposite or same sex.

The article was approved 249-97, with most deputies from the ruling Socialist Party (PS) voting in favour, and all but one of the conservative UMP party’s representatives voting against. The two far-right National Front (FN) deputies opposed the bill, and the party called on its supporters to join Catholic-driven protests against it.

Such a strong majority suggests that the bill is certain to pass on February 12th.

France begins debating equality

Timothy Kincaid

January 29th, 2013

The equality bill now has been introduced into the French Paliament and debate is expected to go on for weeks. In a last ditch effort, anti-gay activists have placed banners on the city’s bridges insisting on discrimination and exclusion. (expatica)

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told parliament as the debate kicked off that introducing gay marriage was “an act of equality”. The government has allowed for the debate to run until February 10 with a vote due two days later.

With opinion polls having consistently shown that a comfortable majority of the French support gay marriage, Hollande could never have anticipated that a promise he made in his election manifesto last year would generate such controversy.

The Socialist Party has the votes to pass the legislation and it is also supported by Communists, Greens and some other centrists.

France’s New Year’s Baby Born to Lesbian Couple

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2013

This is a popular story this time of year: cities, states and countries all over scour the area hospitals to herald the arrival of the first newborn for the new year. In France, where the country is in the midst of a debate over marriage equality, the first newborn has a particular relevance. Sacha was born at a minute past midnight at a hospital in Moulins as the proud son of two moms. The couple underwent artificial insemination in Belgium because French law currently bars the procedure to same-sex couples, even though the couple have been in a civil pact since 2010. They plan to marry as soon as marriage equality becomes legal in France.

Jan 29: France votes

Timothy Kincaid

December 10th, 2012

The French legislature is scheduled to vote on the marriage bill on January 29th. Of course they’ve had previous schedules so we’ll see how that goes. But, in any case, let’s keep this date as a possible day of interest.

The French symbol of anti-equality

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage is joyously reporting that France’s faithful Catholics are in opposition to marriage. And accompanying that article is this rather perplexing photograph:

I have no idea what this guy is doing, but it does raise an interesting question: Why wear neck-to-knee underwear under your skin tight body suit if your junk is going to show anyway?

Meanwhile, in France…

Timothy Kincaid

November 7th, 2012

New York Times

The French cabinet approved a draft bill legalizing same-sex marriage on Wednesday after weeks of loud opposition, especially from religious figures and the political right.

The draft law redefines marriage to stipulate that it is “contracted between two persons of different sex or of the same sex,” and the words “father” and “mother” in existing legislation are replaced by “parents.” The bill would also allow married gay couples to adopt children.

France Sets A Date

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2012

In an interview with AFP, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that a draft law allowing same-sex marriage will be approved by government ministers on October 31. The bill, which will be presented to  President Francois Hollande’s cabinet, has drawn fierce opposition from the country’s religious leaders and more than 1,200 French mayors or deputy mayors:

Xavier Lemoine, a mayor who has said he will not allow gay weddings to take place in his town hall in the Paris suburb of Montfermeil, said the proposed legislation would be a disaster for society.

“I can refuse to apply the law if the law is tyrannical,” he said. “Above all else, I have to respect my conscience.”

The mayors’ petition against gay marriage is being orchestrated by Jacques Bompard, mayor of the southern French town of Orange and a member of the far-right National Front. The 1,200 signatures represent less than one percent of the total number of mayors and deputy mayors in France.

Hollande predicts that the bill will become law in mid-2013, and claims to have enough cross-party support to get the measure passed. Eight European countries, including six in the EU, provide full marraige equality for same-sex couples.

More callous than Marie Antoinette

Timothy Kincaid

April 16th, 2012

Marie Antoinette got a bad rap.

As the lore goes, she was told about the plight of the French people who were suffering during a famine. And upon learning that there was a shortage of bread, a staple of the diet, she said, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”. And since that day, the term “let them eat cake” has been a symbol of the callousness or obliviousness of the wealthy elite.

Actually, she probably never said it. A story written when she was a child (living in Austria) was combined with anti-royalist sentiments and, as is often the case in politics, actual truth was far less interesting than a story too good not to repeat. The real Marie was less villainous than the cartoon characterization and was reportedly concerned about the plight of the people and generous with charity. Had she also not been even more generous with herself while France was in financial disarray (or had royalists quelled the revolution) history would be kinder.

But whichever noblewoman (real or fictional) uttered the phrase, they don’t deserve to be the symbol of callousness.

The response reflects on a character so self-absorbed that it isn’t aware of the plight of others and so oblivious of the lives outside their experience that they make absurd assumptions. But at least she offered a solution. An ignorant foolish solution perhaps, but one that hints that she cared at least some little bit about their plight.

Which is more than I can say about some today in the anti-gay movement.

I don’t think we need to reiterate here that there is an epidemic of bullying in schools across the nation. At this point, it is not speculative or alleged or partisan. On this, voices as diverse as Lady Gaga and Mike Huckabee can agree.

And it is simply irrefutable that gay students are more likely to be a target than are most students. And after several kids who identified as gay (or were assumed to be) took their own lives, our community coalesced around a serious effort to reduce the terrorism that gay kids experience. One of the efforts implemented is to encourage schools to establish anti-bullying programs that specifically address anti-gay bullying. And related to that is an annual Day of Silence to bring attention to the problem and the encourage students and staff to take this problem seriously.

But solutions are not easy or obvious. Even schools that have implemented anti-bullying programs still experience levels of bullying that would have been considered unacceptable a decade ago. And people of good intention may differ on the response.

Some religious conservatives also have been worried that in their advocacy for gay kids, schools might not fully consider the consequences of some messages. Many people of faith have restrictions on sexual behavior as part of their moral code and teach their children certain rules about sex outside of marriage. Sometimes those outside the faith do not understand the nuance of such teachings. And should a public school misrepresented such teachings or declared them “harmful” and those who followed such rules as “bigots”, it could make targets out of religious kids.

Replacing gay kids as a target for scorn and humiliation with Christian kids doesn’t solve the problem, and it is valid to raise that point. And, indeed, some school districts listened to those views and were able to bring in gay people and pastors and people of diverse communities to make sure that the programs addressed everyone’s concerns and were supported by the full community. This is an area about which there should be no disagreement and, when all parties want to work together consensus is possible.

Alternately, some chose to respond directly by participating in a Golden Rule Pledge. Rather than discuss the possible implications, they sought to offset any possible negative views of Christian kids by visibly breaking the association with bigotry. By having religious kids say, “Yes, we agree, no one should be bullied and we promise to stand with you and protect you”, Christian kids could oppose the harm without having to defend their own values.

But there were those among conservative Christianity who had a less generous response. For example, Dr. Michael Brown writes today about the Day of Silence in a way that makes it clear that kids bullied to death are the least of his concerns.

Brown sets the tone by starting with dishonesty:

On April 20th, in thousands of schools across America, your hard-earned tax dollars will help underwrite the homosexual indoctrination of your kids.

Setting aside the absurd notion that protecting children from bullying is the same as “homosexual indoctrination of your kids”, the Day of Silence is not funded by tax dollars. It doesn’t really cost much of anything for students to be silent for the day and the direct costs of posters and other publicity are not paid by the schools. I suppose that one could argue that anything that occurs on a school grounds is “underwritten” by “your hard-earned tax dollars”, but by that logic it would be much more truthful to say, “your hard-earned tax dollars help underwrite the abuse of gay kids today”.

Dr. Brown is a careful writer. He usually avoids sentences or short passages that can be extracted from his writing to illustrate his animosity. He doesn’t use words like “pervert” or “abomination”. He works with innuendo and insinuation and plays on the existing biases of his target audience. Consider:

But don’t some schools already have generic, anti-bullying programs in place along with special, daylong events to highlight the destructive effects of bullying, a subject that should concern all of us? Of course they do, but that’s not enough. GLSEN insists that a special focus must be put on LGBT kids, as if bullying a gay kid was worse than bullying a fat kid.

It’s clever. In one sentence absent of any slurs he manages to insinuate that gay people are demanding special consideration, that any attention given to gay bullying takes away from other targets of bullying, and that gay activists are unfairly demanding resources that aren’t needed.

Of course, that isn’t close to true. As the epidemic of bullying illustrates, most schools have, at best, a perfunctory anti-bullying program (that isn’t implemented with seriousness) coupled with a devoted commitment to denial. The movie Bully provides an illustration of a child being tormented daily on a school bus while administrators assured the documentarian that the other children were “good as gold”.

And as any gay kid – and most fat kids – will tell you, bullying of gay kids really is worse. Fat kids have families to turn to while gay kids often do not have that option. And on most campuses there is an agreement that calling a fat kid names is “a bad thing to do” while many children attending churches of which Dr. Brown would approve do not share the belief that saying “you’re an abomination and going to hell” to gay kids is “a bad thing to do”.

But that isn’t really the most telling point about that paragraph. I’ll come back to that.

He goes on with artificial concern about ex-gays being excluded from the Day of Silence (as though there has ever been a single kid to identify as ex-gay who was in any way excluded from this student organized event). He rants about a nameless black teacher who “did not approve of equating gay activism with the civil rights movement.” He makes the usual intentionally dishonest false equation in which the balance to “don’t bully gay kids” is “a religious or moral objection to homosexuality”.

But all of that is just filler and fluff; it’s what he didn’t say that is worth noting. At no point in his 869 word essay did Dr. Brown ever express the slightest concern about the plight of tormented gay kids or provide any alternate solution. His position – that which is opposite of GLSEN’s position, can be seen in the paragraph we noted above.

Of course they do, but that’s not enough.

Dr. Brown and GLSEN are both aware of the high rate of gay teen suicides. Dr. Brown and GLSEN are well aware that openly gay teens – and even those suspected of being gay – are tormented at rates far higher than any demographic. Including the “fat kid” demographic. GLSEN believes that the current status is “not enough” and Dr. Brown disagrees.

Now Dr. Brown would never use the words. He would never say them out loud. And he’ll likely send me an email telling me that I’m misrepresenting his position and putting words in his mouth. But the message is clear.

When told that due to the famine the peasants had no bread, Marie Antoinette’s solution was, “let them eat cake”. When told that gay students are being bullied to the point that they kill themselves, Dr. Michael Brown’s answer is, “let them die.”

Marie Antoinette got a bad rap.

Older Posts