Posts Tagged As: Mike Pence

Earlier This Week, The GOP Platform Committee Declared Porn a Public Health Crisis

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2016

I scoffed the time, but now I have to apologize. It looks like the crisis is way worse than I thought:


Twitter, naturally, is having a field day:


It’s Trump-Pence

Jim Burroway

July 15th, 2016

You, of course, remember Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for his bumbling, bungling handling of Indiana’s ill-fated right-to-discriminate law. Pence has positioned himself as political poison among LGBT voters and many women, while Trump’s name is poison to African Americans and Latino voters. Which I guess makes this the ultimate Republican diversity ticket.

Report: Indiana GOP Leaders Circulating Proposed Changes To License-To-Discriminate Bill

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2015

The Indianapolis Star is reporting that Indiana GOP leaders are vetting a proposed deal with business leaders and the Governor that would explicitely state that the law couldn’t be used as a defense against anti-gay discrimination:

A copy of the language obtained by The Indianapolis Star was being presented to Gov. Mike Pence Wednesday morning. The measure would specify that the new religious freedom law cannot be used as a legal defense to discriminate against residents based on their sexual orientation.

The measure goes much further than a “preamble” that was proposed earlier in the week, explaining exactly what the RFRA law does. But it doesn’t go as far as establishing gays and lesbians as a protected class of citizens or repealing the law outright, both things that Republican leaders have said they could not support.

The clarification would say that the new “religious freedom” law does not authorize a provider – including businesses or individuals – to refuse to offer or provide its services, facilities, goods, or public accommodation to any member of the public based on sexual orientation or gender identity, in addition to race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, or military service.

The proposed language exempts churches or other nonprofit religious organizations – including affiliated schools – from the definition of “provider.”

Democrats continue to call for full repeal of the state’s RFRA. The bill’s supporters, including the American Family Association of Indiana, the Indiana Family Institute, and Advance America, have not commented on the proposed changes. It’s also not clear how the proposed changes will go down with the Republican caucus in the legislature. They are due to meet tomorrow at noon to discuss the chagnes. Those reactions will be telling, considering all of the objections voiced by Pence and others that the bill somehow had nothing to do  with making super-doublely sure that discrimination against LGBT people would be perfectly legal.

Gov. Pence Calls For Changes In Indiana’s Right-To-Discriminate Law

Jim Burroway

March 31st, 2015


This is what Indiana Gov. Mike Spence woke up to this morning: A a rare front-page editorial in the Indianapolis Star demanding that Pence and the state legislature “stop clinging to arguments about whether RFRA really does what critics fear; to stop clinging to ideology or personal preferences; to focus instead on fixing this.” Pence responded to that and other criticisms from business leaders around the country with a news conference today in which he 1) blamed his critics for spreading ” misunderstanding and confusion and mischaracterization” (while spreading a different kind of misunderstanding and mischaracterization himself; more on that in a moment), and 2) called for the legislature to implement unspecified “clarifications” to the law.

What those clarifications might be is anyone’s guess, and caution is in order. After all, the devil is always in the details, as Pence well knows as he mischaracterizes the very law he signed last Thursday. In this morning’s news conference, Pence doubled down on the claim that the law was nothing more than a state law mirroring the federal RFRA signed by President Clinton in 1993. Of course, the law’s supporters have already revealed the differences, as Rob Tisinai pointed out yesterday. Today, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is likely to become the next Senate Minority Leader, and who co-wrote the federal RFRA with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), blasted Pence’s mischaracterization on Facebook:

In the uproar over the recently passed Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), defenders of the bill like Indiana Gov. Pence are trying to hide behind the argument that the law “simply mirrors” the federal RFRA Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote and I introduced as a Congressman in 1993. That may be true only if you’re using a Funhouse mirror. In reality, it is completely false, and a disingenuous argument to boot; they should cease and desist immediately comparing the federal RFRA of 1993 to their present, misguided law.

There are two simple reasons the comparison does not hold water.

First, the federal RFRA was written narrowly to protect individuals’ religious freedom from government interference unless the government or state had a compelling interest. If ever there was a compelling state interest, it is to prevent discrimination. The federal law was not contemplated to, has never been, and could never be used to justify discrimination against gays and lesbians, in the name of religious freedom or anything else.

Second, the federal RFRA was written to protect individuals’ interests from government interference, but the Indiana RFRA protects private companies and corporations. When a person or company enters the marketplace, they are doing so voluntarily, and the federal RFRA was never intended to apply to them as it would to private individuals.

Because of these significant, legal differences, the Indiana RFRA in no way resembles the intent or application of the federal RFRA. As the signer of the bill, Governor Pence should put a stop to it immediately.

Garrett Epps at the Atlantic describes a key event which led Indiana to add private companies and corporations in its law:

The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.

What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Storesin which the Court’s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees’ statutory right to contraceptive coverage.

Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. WillockIn that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply “because the government is not a party.”

Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision.  Democrats also offered the Republican legislative majority a chance to amend the new act to say that it did not permit businesses to discriminate; they voted that amendment down.

Pence nevertheless held firm in this morning’s news conference that the problem wasn’t with the law itself, but with “perception”:

But the governor, clearly exasperated and sighing audibly in response to questions, seemed concerned mostly with defending the law and the intent behind it, saying, “We’ve got a perception problem,” not one of substance. He referred to “gross mischaracterizations,” “reckless reporting by some in the media,” “completely false and baseless” accounts of the law, and “the smear that’s been leveled against this law and against the people of Indiana.”

“If this law had been about discrimination, I would have vetoed it,” he said. “I don’t believe for a minute that it was the intention of the General Assembly to create a license to discriminate, or a right to deny services to gays, lesbians or anyone else in this state, and that was not my intent, but I appreciate that that’s become the perception.”

Pence blames “reckless reporting,” but that “perception,” as he puts it, is largely attributable to two things: the text of the law itself, and Pence’s refusal four times to answer a straight up yes/no question on Sunday about whether an Indiana business can safely discriminate against a gay customer under the new law. And if he didn’t think it was about discrimination, then he didn’t pay much attention to the debate in the state legislature leading up to the votes, nor did he happen to notice those who stood behind him as his signed the bill into law. The Governor’s office refused to identify the people attending the private signing ceremony, but GLAAD did some of that work for them.


Click to enlarge.

But when you get past his self-serving complaints today, Pence has appeared to have backed down. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman calls that a “significant victory” for gay Hoosiers:

But the pressure Pence got from people both within Indiana and around the country has essentially forced him to be true to his word. Up until now, Pence has been saying that the law was not intended to give businesses in Indiana the right to discriminate against gay people. Now he’s saying that he wants to put that explicitly within the law itself. That’s a huge win for gay people who don’t want to be discriminated against, and makes it more likely that the next state that passes a law like this one — and there are similar bills pending in multiple states — will include a similar clarification.

Not only that, Pence went so far as to say, “No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe. I believe it with all my heart.” The “who they love” part is not the kind of language one usually hears about LGBT people from Republicans, particularly those as conservative as Pence.

For me though, the devil will still be in the details. It’s unclear how Pence and the GOP-controlled legislature will “fix this thing” while holding to their vow not to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. When asked about that this morning, Pence replied, “I’ve never supported that, and I want to be clear, it’s not on my agenda. I think it’s a completely separate question.”

Despite (or perhaps, because of) the controversy, Pence enjoys powerful support within the Republican party. A rash of potential (and one declared) presidential candidates have already strongly defended Indiana’s RFRA in its current form, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

More Proof: They Really Want To Discriminate Against You, Eight Times Over

Jim Burroway

March 30th, 2015

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) went into full damage control yesterday with an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” George Stephanopoulos asked Pence straight up four times whether an Indiana florist is allowed to discriminate under Indiana’s new law, and six times Pence would not give an answer.

If anyone is asked whether a business is allowed to discriminate four times and he refuses to give answer  four times, you can safely take that answer as a yes. You can be doubly assured of that because Stephanopoulos asked four more questions about whether Pence would pursue protections for LGBT Hoosiers. Pence was a bit more direct about that. That answer is no.

Here’s the Proof: They Really Do Want to Discriminate Against You

Jim Burroway

March 27th, 2015

I’ve been missing in action the past few months, working ten to eleven hour days at work and having just about every other minute outside of work consumed by other things. This pace is likely to continue at least through May. So I haven’t been able to keep up with the slew of right-to-discriminate bills making their appearance in state legislatures across the country as part of a larger backlash against an anticipated Supreme Court ruling sometime this summer on marriage equality. Some of that backlash is comical, like Oklahoma’s deciding not to marry straight people if gays can marry. Other examples are far more sinister, like Indiana’s sweeping law that gives any Indiana business or individual license to discriminate against anyone — including Africa-Americans, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, women, foreigners, and LGBT people. In fact, Indiana’s law is so sweeping that it allows anyone to violate any law unless there is a “compelling governmental interest… of the highest magnitude,” which I guess may exclude most felonies, although the wording of the bill doesn’t exactly make that clear.

Despite intense lobbying by business leaders, Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed the bill into law while protesting that “This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would’ve vetoed it.” But of course, you know as well as I do that all of these bills making their way through state legislatures are precisely about discrimination. And here’s the proof.

A similar right to discriminate bill was making its way through the Georgia House this week. It actually passed the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, but not before an amendment was added by State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who opposed the bill:

“I take at face value the statements of the proponents that they do not intend discrimination with this bill but I also believe that if that is the case, we should state that expressly in the bill itself. That is what the amendment does.”

Jacobs’s amendment added language to explicitly prevent “discrimination on any ground prohibited by federal, state or local law.” Bill supporter Rep. Barry Flemming (R-Harlem) complained that “This is the amendment that will gut this bill.” Which, of course, it does. And the reason that an anti-discrimination clause “guts” a bill that is “not about discrimination” is because you simply can’t get around the fact that, despite the Indiana Governor’s protest, discrimination really is the whole point of the bill! And so Flemming announced that if there is an amendment that says the bill would not allow discrimination, he would no longer support it.

So let me emphasize this: he would not longer support a bill that reiterated that the bill was not about discrimination. Because if a bill says it’s not going to allow discrimination, then he considers that bill toxic. So toxic that after three Republicans on the committee joined six Democrats to approve the amendment, Flemming offered a motion to table the amended bill. The motion passed.

The Georgia bill appears to be gravely wounded, although just about anything can still happen in the final days of the legislative session. But along the way, the true colors of these bills’ supporters have been revealed. They will tell you that it’s not about discrimination, but when you get language prohibiting discrimination into the bill, they can’t support it. What more do you need to know?

Indiana Senate Committee Passes Amended Marriage Ban Proposal

Jim Burroway

February 10th, 2014

In a straight 8-4 party line vote, the Indiana Senate Rules Committee gave its approval to a proposed constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would ban same-sex marriage. Crucually, the committee opted against restoring a second sentence to the proposed constitutional amendment that would also ban civil unions and domestic parternships. That second sentenced was stripped from the wording by the Indiana House in January.

The absence of that second sentence is crucial in determining when the proposed amendment would go before the voters. Indiana’s constitution requires that the identical language must pass two separately elected General Assemblies before a proposal can be placed on the ballot. The prior General Assembly passed the ban with the second sentence included in 2011. If both houses opted to keep the language intact, then then the proposed ban would hit the ballot box during the 2014 mid-term elections. But if the full Senate passes the newest version of the proposed ban, then the clock gets reset and the same ban would have to pass the next elected legislature as well. That would mean the earliest the amended ban could get to the ballot box would be during the 2016 elections, when voters will turn out to elect a president as well as Indiana governor.

Gov. Mike Pence (R) strongly supports the marriage ban, and has made it clear that he wants it decided “once and for all” this year rather than have it as a campaign issue while he’s trying to seek re-election in 2016.

Same-sex marriage opponents will have one more opportunity to try to restore the civil union ban when the measure goes before the full Senate. If they are successful, then the differences between the House and Senate versions would have to be hashed out in committee.

The real reason some oppose lifting DADT

Timothy Kincaid

November 19th, 2010

Those who oppose the repeal of the Military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy often couch their objections to open service in terms of ‘what is best for the Military.’ And, to be fair, that may be a primary concern of our Curmudgeon in Chief or other legislators who just can’t fathom that young soldiers are just not as scared of Homosexuals!! in the Showers!! as they are.

But achieving the best Military is of no consequence to those who are leading the public opposition to open service. If irrefutable proof were offered that open service by gay personnel would increase unit cohesion and military effectiveness by 25%, they would still be opposed. Because their chief objection has nothing to do with the military, the fears of other soldiers, or even sensitivity to the religious teachings of chaplains.

No. Their objection is based on the fear that open service would remove the stigma and hostility that is institutionalized by the DADT policy. They don’t care about military policy nearly as much as they do about condemning homosexuality and gay people.

Take, for example, the objections made by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) when asked what his response would be if the military survey showed that soldiers do not have a problem with open service:

I would still have a problem with it because there’s no question to mainstream homosexuality within active duty military would have an impact on unit cohesion would have an impact on recruitment, an impact on readiness, that’s been established and written about and chronicled for many many years and I believe we need to continue to keep the focus of our military on the mission of the military. Don’t ask don’t tell was a compromise back in the early 90s, it’s been a successful compromise we ought to leave it like it is and and not run the risk of impacting the readiness of our military or recruitment for our military because of an effort to advance some liberal domestic social agenda.

Lots of talk about unit cohesion, recruitment, readiness, etc., but that is just cover.

As Pence indicates, he doesn’t care what the report says. He doesn’t care what soldiers think, or whether open service would improve unit cohesion, recruitment, and readiness. All of that is irrelevant to Pence’s position.

Pence’s real opposition is “to mainstream homosexuality.” The rest is mere justifications offered to bolster his real objection, “mainstreaming” homosexuality.

This fear of “mainstreaming” raises its head in the objections that Focus on the Family makes to anti-bullying campaigns. It’s present in debates over insurance for city employees. It shows up when a theme park has a gay day or when a television show creates a lesbian character or when a library includes a book with a plotline that speaks to the life of a gay youth.

Really, Mike Pence isn’t that worried that the military will not be ready for combat if gay people serve. The military isn’t his concern or why he ran for Congress. In fact, this isn’t even because Pence “hates gays” or opposes “the liberal social agenda”, per se.

Rather, Pence is afraid that Americans are rejecting his religion’s views including those about homosexuality and that it is – or soon will be – no longer mainstream thinking to engage in blanket condemnation of others based on their sexual orientation. He is afraid that his religion will further slip in its “moral authority” to declare what is acceptable social conduct and he is seeking to use his power as an elected official to give governmental sanction to his church’s beliefs.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan added this additional thought:

I think many under-estimate the symbolic importance of this to those who believe homosexuality is a sickness or a sin. What we are asking of them is not simply to tolerate reluctantly the fact that some gay people refuse to be ashamed or closeted, but to conflate the symbol of the American soldier with a homosexual. There are very few emblems in American life that carry the weight, power and symbolism of the American soldier, the veteran, the men and women in uniform.

To say that open gay men and women are serving their country in uniform is to say that they are fully citizens. It is this equal citizenship that simply cannot compute with the idea of homosexuality in the minds of a minority of the older generation.

Far Right gathers for Value Voters weekend

Timothy Kincaid

September 17th, 2010

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

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

The plenary session presentations consist of:

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

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

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

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

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

Most of these names will not surprise us:

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

Congressmen file amicus in support of DC’s anti-gays

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2010

Two Senators and 37 members of the House (all Republicans) have filed an amicus brief in support of anti-gay activists who are suing to put marriage equality to a vote in the District of Columbia.

Their official reason is some mumble-jumble about serving “as members of the ultimate legislative authority for the District of Columbia and the very body which delegated to the District its limited legislative power under home rule”. But their basic beef comes down to, “When we said that DC residents could make their own decisions, we didn’t mean that they could make choices that we don’t like!!”

Relatedly, last night I saw GOP Party Chairman Michael Steele, arguing on Fox that Democrats are taking away the ability of people to live their lives the way they want… and using DC’s marriage law as example. I’m paraphrasing, but it seemed like he was arguing that DC residents were losing individual freedom because they were not free to vote on what their neighbors could do. Truly, it was an example of someone totally confused about the idea of personal liberty and individual freedom.

The good news is that these congressmen are only a small percentage of the Senate and the House and are even a minority in their own party (twenty years ago you’d have nearly all of the members of both parties). This is not to say that other Republicans would necessarily support marriage equality, but perhaps that they didn’t feel the need to identify themselves with the extremist right-wing caucus of Republicans who never lose an opportunity to attack the rights, freedom, and equality of gay people.

In a way, they did us a favor. We now have a nice list of the most extreme of the extreme. And while I didn’t see any surprises on the list (perhaps our readers might), it’s nice to have a compilation of equality’s biggest opponents all in one place.


James Inhofe (Okla.)
Roger Wicker (Miss.)


Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio)
Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.)
Robert Aderholt (Ala.)
Todd Akin (Mo.)
Michele Bachmann (Minn.)
J. Gresham Barrett (S.C.)
Roscoe Bartlett (Md.)
Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)
John Boozman (Ark.)
Jason Chaffetz (Utah)
John Fleming (La.)
J. Randy Forbes (Va.)
Virginia Foxx (N.C.)
Scott Garrett (N.J.)
Phil Gingrey (Ga.)
Louie Gohmert (Tex.)
Jeb Hensarling (Tex.)
Wally Herger (Calif.)
Walter Jones (N.C.)
Jim Jordan (Ohio)
Steve King (Iowa)
Jack Kingston (Ga.)
John Kline (Minn.)
Doug Lamborn (Colo.)
Robert Latta (Ohio)
Don Manzullo (Ill.)
Michael McCaul (Tex.)
Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.)
Patrick McHenry (N.C.)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.)
Jeff Miller (Fla.)
Jerry Moran (Kan.)
Randy Neugebauer (Tex.)
Mike Pence (Ind.)
Joe Pitts (Pa.)
Mark Souder (Ind.)
Todd Tiahrt (Kan.)

Feel free to walk precincts, call volunteers, work get-out-the-vote, or contribute to the campaigns of their primary and general opponents as much as possible.


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