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 April, 2014

Robert Oscar Lopez Goes to Italy

Jim Burroway

April 29th, 2014

Thanks to a tip from an Italian BTB reader, we’ve learned that Robert Oscar Lopez, the rabidly anti-gay maybe-bi son of a lesbian mother who lived oh-so-briefly with a lesbian partner, was in Italy last week as the guest of right wing Catholic groups to warn about the “engine of world-historical evil” — that would be you. While there, he tried to respond to a blog post in the Italian version of The Huffington Post by Josephine La Delfa, president of Famiglie Arcobaleno (“Rainbow Families”, an Italian LGBT parents association), HuffPo simply ignored it. So he had his response published in Tempi, a mouthpiece of the right wing Catholic movement Communion and Liberation.

What we have here is his English article translated into Italian, and then back to English again. That round trip does little to alter his familiar argument:

The thesis is that a “different” right — the right to be raised in conditions that sociologists and experts consider ideal — overcomes and erases the right to have a father and a mother. It is a reasoning deeply offensive, especially because it comes from those who present themselves as a defender of gay rights.

This is standard issue fare from just about all anti-gay opponents of marriage equality. But of course, what sets Lopez apart is his rather unhinged ideas about adoption amounting to an “international slave trade.” He drops the “slave” word in his Temp post, but his point remains the same:

[W]hat is the attitude towards children forced to live in homes of homosexual couples? The key word is just “forced” because no child ends up in a gay parenting household if not because of the adults resort to extraordinary measures to submit to the authority of one or two people with whom he has biological ties or blood.

Lopez claims there are “countless statistics showing how gay relationships have a high rate of instability, domestic violence and emotional abuse” among gay couples, although he doesn’t bother to mention any of them. Strictly speaking his “countless” claim may be true, since you can only count what exists. But he then goes on to suggest that the only people qualified to determine who can marry and who can’t are sociologists:

[G]ay activists say, “you do not need the legal recognition of your relationship with the mother and father who gave you the identity that made you as you are now, because you know, we scientists who have shown that it is enough for you to live the way we want it and you have to love the people who have decided that you should love. If this is the way we give rights to relationships because we’re discussing the wedding? We could say: “you do not have the right to get married with people of the same sex , you cannot marry the person you love, you have to be in a relationship that sociologists define good for you, it could be, statistically speaking, a relationship with a person of the opposite sex.” Of course, this last statement is offensive to the supporters of gay marriage.

That last statement is offensive to anyone contemplating marriage, not just gay couples. Can you imagine anyone else being willing to submit to a sociologist’s stamp of approval? But what Lopez conveniently leaves out in his convoluted letter is that sociologists have weighed in on marriage quality, and they support it, saying that countless statistic, to borrow Lopez’s phrasing, show that “parents’ sexual orientation has no bearing on children’s well-being.” But that inconvenient fact would keep Lopez from pulling his outrage card, and he can’t have that.:

Why say that children do not have the right to have a mother and a father is abusive to me? Because I was raised by a lesbian and her partner and my father was not in the family portrait. Giuseppina La Delfa could look into my eyes and tell me that I have not lost anything? That I have not suffered anything? I would have no right to I love my father as my father, and just for the fact that he is my father?

Well, between these two positions, that of the child must prevail because: 1. Loss of a parent does not take place with the consent of the child while adults gays are big enough to choose 2. Loss to a child is something universal: not all people get married, but all people have a father and a mother. 3. Loss to a child is permanent. Two adults gays can get divorced while the child can not remove half of her genetic heritage.

For these reasons, I ask you to apologize to all children — to humanity in fact — for saying this heinous thing: that people do not have the right to a father and a mother.

It looks like Lopez’s logic translates about as badly into Italian as it sounds in English.

The Self-Defeating Folly of Robert Oscar Lopez

Rob Tisinai

April 18th, 2014

Robert Oscar Lopez is a maybe-bisexual man raised by two lesbians (well, sort of: one full-time mom and one part-time). He spouts such vicious garbage that he’s finding it hard to find places in America that welcome him to speak. Or, as he put it recently, “one of the reasons that I was so available to help European allies was practical: blacklisted and driven out of the public square by a cadre of unhinged homosexual fascists.”

I always wonder what his colleagues think of this, the ones we do see on Fox and other conservative outlets. Lopez is basically implying they weren’t effective enough to be hounded out of the country. He hints at the real reason for his exile, though. In that same article he writes:

[M]any conservatives, even the ones fighting gay marriage, have viewed me as a liability and cooperated with the blackout.  Other right-wing journals wouldn’t publish me.  For a year and a half I got many queries from college students interested in having me speak, but conservatives sponsoring them deemed me too controversial.

Well, which is it? Who’s to blame for silencing him? A cadre of unhinged homosexual fascists, or many conservatives, or a conspiracy between the two (another possibility, that “many conservatives” fighting gay marriage are in fact closeted “unhinged homosexual fascists,” is provocative, but probably not what he intended). It’s funny that he can’t see his own contradiction, which might be a good signal that he was indeed stifled from within his own movement. In fact, his penchant for contradiction, paranoia, and baffling illogic makes a damn good case for his allies to shut him up.

Lopez’s only real value to their movement lies in the fierce way he denounces his upbringing, but his irrationality infects even that. Here’s how he describes it:

Between 1973 and 1990, when my beloved mother passed away, she and her female romantic partner raised me. They had separate houses but spent nearly all their weekends together, with me, in a trailer tucked discreetly in an RV park 50 minutes away from the town where we lived. As the youngest of my mother’s biological children, I was the only child who experienced childhood without my father being around.

After my mother’s partner’s children had left for college, she moved into our house in town. I lived with both of them for the brief time before my mother died at the age of 53. I was 19.

What an awful childhood. The secrecy, the isolation, the self-shunning. The fear, the constant separation from one’s friends, the inevitable sense imposed on a child that his life is somehow wrong. It’s enough to give you sympathy for this poor — oh, wait, I left off a sentence from that last paragraph.

In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under “gay parenting” as that term is understood today.

Really? This awful closeted existence is what we have in mind when we fight for marriage equality? Again: really?

And this is where we see just how damaged Robert Oscar Lopez really is: He can’t recognize basic facts of reality, and he certainly can’t reason. We see this in nearly everything he writes. For example, from his bizarre amicus brief to Virginia’s Bostic case:

In a case where one member of the same-sex couple is the child’s biological parent and the couple wants to “jointly” adopt the child, the adoption is a form of coercion. Now the child, in addition to having permanently lost the link to a biological parent of the opposite sex, must submit to the authority and control of a new parent who may or may not dispense of such power with generosity.

Somehow Lopez misses the fact that this “coercion” doesn’t just apply to same-sex adoption, but to  adoption in general (and frankly, to parenting in general, adoptive or not). And he compounds his mistake:

I have heard the scenario raised in an Irish debate – “what if a same -sex couple is raising a child but only one is the legal parent, and the other one needs to pick the child up from school?” This is typical of the scenarios flagged in same-sex parenting debates. In truth in most schools in the United States a parent can leave a note explaining that someone else is going to pick the child up from school. A legal joint adoption, however, would give the non-biological parent the right to come to school without prior notice and demand that the child leave with him, whether or not the child wants to. Far from offering “legal protection” to the child, this opens the door to child abduction and custody battles that can escalate and inflict terrible stress on the child. There is no reason to change adoption and marriage laws in order to accommodate a small number of easily avoidable instances, which we probably do not want to encourage anyway.

Again, this is not unique to same-sex adoption, but is inherent to adoption per se. Yet Lopez only wants to condemn same sex parents with it. (NOM, and Jennifer Roback Morse in particular, suffer from a variation on this blindness.)

The gobsmacking continues. He recently wrote:

All during 2012 and 2013, there were signs that the gay movement – never to be conflated with gay people themselves – had become an engine of world-historical evil.

On a related, world-historical  note:

Homosexuals were deemed an oppressed people despite the flimsiest of historical grievances (even the legendary gay Holocaust involved no more than 15,000 victims, out of the twelve million people placed in Nazi concentration camps).

15,000 victims? How flimsy!

He’s well-known for comparing surrogacy to slavery, and believes he has special insight here because of “the fact that my great-great-grandmother was a Puerto Rican slave raped by a white man.” And it just goes on and on.

Lopez says in his amicus brief, “My personal life story is not the main source for my position before the Court,” but we can dismiss that because in its next section he devotes 6 pages to detailing that history — which is no surprise, since it’s the main only reason he gets invited to anti-gay venues. In any case, he’s utterly disqualified himself as a reliable analyst because in a single sentence — In other words, I was the only child who experienced life under “gay parenting” as that term is understood today — he demonstrates his complete break from reality when it comes to this issue.

Sadly, Lopez can’t recognize this even when it’s pointed out to him. Complaining about researchers he don’t consider his case representative, he tell us:

In my case, when I debated same-sex parenting, people have repeatedly suggested that my case is not applicable in any general sense, due to the fact that my mother and her partner chose to live in separate houses despite co-parenting me, and the fact that my mother died when I was still a teenager.

Actually, no. This is Regnerus all over again: Lopez is the product of a broken heterosexual home (which we know can be damaging) and promptly moved into a family structure that no one but Lopez would describe as “‘gay parenting’ as that term is understood today.” His very inability to see this is evidence enough of his analytical incompetence.  Enough, perhaps, but he still offers more.

As a spokesman, Lopez can’t even rise to the level of anonymous commenters on anti-gay websites. Recently I encountered this bit of nonsense from one such commenter, who told me:

You are contending that the lessons of compassion, nurturing, and caring can be just as fully conveyed to children by men as by women. A woman isn’t needed to explain to her teen son what things appeal to teen girls and what teen girls think like.

Similarly you are contending that fathers don’t matter. The job of teaching courage and risk-taking can be conveyed to boys equally well by women as by men. Bravery in the face of adversity; meeting challenges head on are items that can be conveyed to children just as well by women as by men.

Of course, you don’t even need to step out of traditional gender roles to see how deluded this is. I’d love to see the reaction when this claptrap about courage, risk-taking, bravery, and challenges is offered to a new mom leaving the delivery room, or to a widowed single mother. But as bad as this is, Lopez’s version is even worse:

Even if my peers’ parents were divorced, and many of them were, they still grew up seeing male and female social models. They learned, typically, how to be bold and unflinching from male figures and how to write thank-you cards and be sensitive from female figures.

Yes, thank-you cards: the core of your mother’s value as a woman.

The quote at the top of this piece and the one I just offered both come from a Lopez article at The Public Discourse, a Witherspoon Institute publication, Witherspoon being the group that financed Regernus. I can understand Lopez might post such nonsense on a personal blog, but this actually got past an editor who apparently didn’t read the anti-Lopez memo. And that’s terrific! It shows how incompetent how our opponents tend to be, no matter how well-funded or “respectable.” Recently Lopez and Bryan Fischer were discussing “why the gay agenda has been able to make the strides it has made,” and Lopez complained it’s because the anti-gay side has stifled its more radical voices (!). In reality, though, stifling these radical voice is one of our opponents’ best strategies. The irony for Lopez is that his side is losing not because his voice has been silenced, but because reasonable people have heard it too much, and it’s alienated them.

I’d like to point out one last irony. Lopez shares his childhood as a way to argue against marriage equality, but the facts of that history — the lesbian who denies her sexuality and marries the “right” gender, the collapse of that relationship, the broken home that never heals, the secrecy of her new relationship, the clandestine upbringing — these details are all hallmarks of a closeted era. It’s the future Lopez wants us to go back to. It’s the past we’re working so hard to transcend. Every aspect that Lopez reveals of his tragic upbringing, every detail, is really just another compelling argument for social and legal equality.

Prop 8 Amicus Brief Filer Calls For “International Intervention,” Charges Gay Parents With “Slave Trade”

Jim Burroway

January 31st, 2013

Robert Oscar Lopez

Yesterday, I posted this about a couple of unusual Amicus Curiae briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court urging the Justices to uphold California’s Proposition 8. One of those briefs, by David Benkof (a self-described gay columnist who opposes same-sex marriage), Robert Oscar Lopez (who describes himself as a bisexual man who was raised by two lesbian mothers and who is currently heterosexually married), and Doug Mainwaring (a man who raised two teenage sons after separating from his wife and coming out gay, and is now back living with his wife), tries to make the case that there is some kind of heretofore undiscovered groundswell of gay people opposing marriage equality. It begins with a statement arguing that “Americans ought not be labeled hateful bigots for opposing redefinition (of marriage).”

I suppose that argument can be made generally, but in Lopez’s case, it’s hard to find another word which would adequately describe his views on the subject. Lopez, an assistant professor in the English Department at Cal State Northridge, posted on this blog last Sunday something that he seems to regard as a major rallying cry. Titled, “Statement: Though I support LGBT dignity, I call on the human rights community to fight human rights violations by LGBT organizations,” it is written in outline form — patterned after other Very Important Declarations which are composed of numbered paragraphs and subparagraphs so that scholars and historians can cite the each Very Important Point without ambiguity. And what a manifesto it is. He begins by arguing that “the democratic process in Western nations and the judicial system of the United States have failed, for over twenty years, to deal in good faith with the bioethical and social-justice problems” posed by LGBT rights advocates. And because of that failure, he calls for some kind of “international intervention”:

II. I state the following without a party affiliation, since I cannot in this case agree with the right wing’s usual resistance to international intervention, nor can I endorse the left wing’s ideology of gay equality, which currently presages a large-scale global human-rights crisis in order to meet the affective demands of gay couples for rights to ownership of children.

…VI. The legal system, academia, the fourth estate, the judicial system, and the political process in the United States have proven themselves inadequate in some cases, grossly negligent in others, totally powerless in some instances, but consistently failing in correcting the human-rights crisis precipitated by the modern LGBT movement and its systematic violation of the rights of children, not only in the United States but also overseas, its continued assault on the dignity of human fatherhood and motherhood, and its increasing complicity with human trafficking, its fraudulent propaganda, its bioethical improprieties, class exploitation, contempt for the democratic process, and violations of the basic principles of free speech, free exercise of religion, and academic freedom.
VII. The time for intervention is now because:

1. With the increase in the number of people entering adulthood identifying as gay (see recent Gallup polling), and encouraged by popular culture to acquire children to express their equality, the human rights crisis will worsen. The sheer volume of same-sex couples who view children as an entitlement and who see their need for equality as overriding the rights of others will aggravate the problem.

2. The usual institutions that would normally identify an oncoming human rights crisis and thwart it are malfunctioning in the United States …

Does he want some kind of military or paramilitary intervention? International sanctions? Statement of condemnation from the United Nations? He doesn’t say, but we do know why. In this piece posted the same day at American Thinker, where he links to his manifesto as a supporting document, he describes what he calls “the oncoming human rights crisis… caused by the LGBT movement.” As Lopez sees it, that crisis manifests itself in the children that gay couples are raising, which Lopez calls “human trafficking“:

The movement to liberate same-sex love began because people loved each other. Somehow, through convoluted digressions, it has become a tyrannical octopus seeking to control life and death itself.

The Rubicon was crossed when the gay movement sided with human trafficking; graft-ridden dirty deals with warlords for orphanages; bio-engineering, baby-farming, and emotional deprivation of innocent children by forcing them to replace a biological parent with a fictional same-sex partner. Naturally, any child forced into such a psychically traumatic origin fantasy who feels resentful about it will be cursed by its caretakers as not only ungrateful, but also a homophobe.

Lopez describes himself as the son of a lesbian mother who was raised by two women. In this post that he wrote for the Witherspoon Institute in which he praised the Institute’s flawed Regneres paper claiming to study “gay parents,” Lopez contends that his childhood was marred due to the lack of male role models, and claims that he still fails to pick up on what he calls “unspoken gender cues that everyone around me.” That’s why, he says, “I have trouble in professional settings because co-workers find me bizarre.”

Okay.

But whatever complaints he may have against his moms’, whatever pain, anger, scars and traumas he may have experienced as a child, for all we know, they may be wholly legitimate. But whatever reality in which those pains may be grounded evaporates when he deploys his imagination against gay parents, which he charges with facilitating a new “slave trade“:

…The fight for marriage has never been about marriage. Marriage is the only way to have legal cover and shield themselves from criticism for their bioethical stunts.

Market demand is a powerful thing, and it is growing because of the increase in LGBT couples as well as the cultural messages convincing young gays that they will be given children or else society is oppressing them. Here in Los Angeles, I’ve seen the eerie proliferation of designer babies in gayborhoods, and the increasingly anesthetized reaction of gay couples’ friends. People go to third-world getaways to pick out babies, place ads for surrogates who can give them a certain eye color, and even collaborate with human trafficking. Never forgetful of my own pains as a lesbian’s son in the 1970s, I see the faces of these gay couple’s children, and sometimes, I have to run away and cry. I know the dazed glare, the powerlessness of these children, their helpless desire to please their parents, their fear of showing their parents any sign that the arrangement has been hurtful.

And yet, I can scarcely forget, this is only the beginning. While some say “it gets better,” all signs show that it will grow far worse. LGBT activists have been frustrated so far by the largest Western nations’ resistance to legalizing gay marriage. In this table, a Francophone researcher discusses the gay-marriage statistics from Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Quebec. Remember that France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy, the more populous nations of Europe, have still resisted full marriage equality. Already in tiny Belgium, 5% of marriages are same-sex. What will happen with the combined populations of Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, and the United States — 570 million people in all — legalize gay marriage, with 5% of that mass being same-sex couples looking to buy babies?

We are staring into the dawn of a new slave trade. Rather than let the Middle Passage happen and then spend centuries trying to exonerate our nation, we must be “on the right side of history.” Stop gay marriage — not because of hate for gay people, but because the machine that is turning people into chattel must be stopped. The only way to break the cycle and wake everyone up is stop gay marriage.

Benkof, Lopez and Mainwaring write in their brief (PDF: 127KB/ 14 pages) to the Supreme Court, “We believe strongly that opposition to gay marriage need not be rooted in hatred towards gay people” and caution the Court against “brand(ing) the views of millions of Americans ‘discriminatory’ or rooted in animus.” But obviously Lopez’s views are rooted in animus, and a very deep-seated one at that. There’s simply no other way to describe it.

Prop 8 Amicus Briefs, Brought to You by the Lunatic Fringe

Jim Burroway

January 30th, 2013

Dozens of organizations and individuals have filed Amicus Curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing either for or against California’s Proposition 8. A couple of them are worth looking at, if for no other reason than for their entertainment value. For example, there’s this brief filed by Margie Phelps for Westboro
Baptist Church. Amicus Curiae briefs are expected to follow several conventions, and the ways in which Westboro’s brief observes them is indicative of Westboro’s highly entertaining approach to things.

First, instead of being a brief in support of petitioners (the pro-Prop 8 side) or respondents (the side that wants to overturn Prop 8), Westboro’s brief is filed “in support of neither party.” Okay.

And then there’s the Table of Authorities. A typical brief will be loaded up with citations to case law, along with other citations to “other authorities,” which would include sources like studies, articles, books, speeches, transcripts, etc. Of Westboro’s 66 citations under “Other Authorities,” 36 of them are Bible quotes. Which means that there are several pages with nothing but reproduced bible passages, including five pages devoted to the entire story of Sodom and Gomorrah. (“This historical event described in Genesis 19:1-28, Holy Bible, must be considered at this hour…”) The brief also has a lengthy retelling of the Great Flood (“The description of the complete destruction of all mankind – a population as or bigger than today’s population…”).

And after all that, Westboro concludes:

Same-sex marriage will destroy this nation. If the leaders of this country treat what God has called abominable as something to be respected, revered,and blessed with the seal of approval of the government, that will cross a final line with God. The harm that will befall this nation, when the condign destructive wrath of God pours out on a nation that purposefully, in a calculating manner, institutionalizes marriage licenses for same-sex unions, is the ultimate harm to the health, welfare and safety of the people. The government is duty bound – in this Christian nation – to institute the standard of God on marriage, and pass and uphold laws that forbid same-sex marriage.

By the way, Westboro filed an identical brief for United States v Windsor, which challenges the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. If nothing else, I guess that ensures both consistency as well as economy.

Another interesting brief (PDF: 127KB/ 14 pages) calling for the court to uphold Prop 8 comes from a man by the name of David Benkoff. It’s been nearly four years since we last heard from him. Here’s how Timothy Kincaid introduced him to BTB readers in 2008:

David Benkof has been getting a bit of attention lately.

And at first glace David appears to be a young gay man who believes that there are better options for gay couples than marriage, that the community should join him in prioritizing other more pressing issues, that the marriage discussion is harming the efforts of gay couples in red states to get recognition for their unions, and that he wants to help. We’d also think that he’s a gay columnist, that he speaks for an influential collection of gay thinkers, and that he is part of the gay and lesbian community and shares our goals and dreams.

None of that is true.

During the Prop 8 campaign, he trotted out his gay/straight/bi/Idunno-guy-against-same-sex-marriage schtick with a web site called “Gays Defend Marriage,” in which he claimed to be a “gay columnist” who was against same-sex marriage. Timothy Kincaid exposed the charade, Benkoff doubled down, and then he abruptly left the scene, saying he “recently learned quite a bit of disturbing information that makes it impossible for me to continue supporting a movement I no longer respect.”

Well, he’s back now. And for this amicus brief, Benkof teamed up with Robert Oscar Lopez (described as a bisexual man who was raised by two lesbian mothers and who is currently heterosexually married), and Doug Mainwaring (a man who raised two teenage sons after separating from his wife and coming out gay.) Again, we see a familiar pattern: people with life credentials which are supposed to demonstrate their connection to the gay community but who are arguing that the gay community needs to be shown its second-class place in society. Lopez has been playing that schtick at the Witherspoon Institute, which sponsored the flawed Regneres paper claiming to study “gay parents.” Lopez contributed an anti-gay tract at the Witherspoon Institute’s web site praising Regnerus’s paper. Mainwaring is a NOM discovery, who wrote in opposition to same-sex marriage in a tea party newsletter and, more recently, in The Christian Post. Their brief includes all of the standard NOM talking points — watered down and polited up, like NOM might be when on its very best behavior — to try to make the impression that there is an undiscovered reservoir of gay people who oppose marriage equality:

Amici  come from a variety of families of origin, we have different religious beliefs and we differ among ourselves about whether legislature should redefine marriage to include same-sex couples. We all believe, however, that Americans ought not be labeled hateful bigots for opposing redefinition.

Our position is based on a shared commitment that marriage is society’s institutional expression of a child’s right to a mother and a father. We are not alone. The ongoing debate over marriage in France has prominently featured gay people who support keeping the understanding of marriage as a union of a husband and wife.

We, and they, believe gay people should be free to love and live as they choose but we also recognize that society has a right to express a rational preference for the kind of unions necessary to the survival of the whole society, and to the well-being of children. Some gay, lesbian and bisexual people will benefit from this preference as they marry a person of the opposite sex.

As you can well guess, Benkof and friends are utterly silent about how LGB people might “benefit from this preference.” They just kind of put that out there. The rest of the brief is basically 14 pages of concern trolling amidst a complete absence of actual facts. (Interestingly, they don’t even bother to mention the Regnerus paper.) It’s much like the Westboro brief that way. Birds of a feather…