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 October, 2014

Schadenfreude Alert

Jim Burroway

October 6th, 2014

The Family “Research” Council’s Tony Perkins says the sky is falling:

“Unfortunately, by failing to take up these marriage cases, the High Court will allow rogue lower court judges who have ignored history and true legal precedent to silence the elected representatives of the people and the voice of the people themselves by overturning state provisions on marriage. Even more alarming, lower court judges are undermining our form of government and the rights and freedoms of citizens to govern themselves. This judicially led effort to force same sex ‘marriage’ on people will have negative consequences for our Republic, not only as it relates to natural marriage but also undermining the rule of and respect for law.

“The Court decision ensures that the debate over natural marriage will continue and the good news is that time is not on the side of those who want to redefine marriage. As more states are forced to redefine marriage, contrary to nature and directly in conflict with the will of millions, more Americans will see and experience attacks on their religious freedom. Parents will find a wedge being driven between them and their children as school curriculum is changed to contradict the morals parents are teaching their children. As more and more people lose their livelihoods because they refuse to not just tolerate but celebrate same-sex marriage, Americans will see the true goal, which is for activists to use the Court to impose a redefinition of natural marriage on the entire nation.

Ryan T. Anderson is not throwing in the towel:

This is an unfortunate setback for sound constitutional self-government and a setback for a healthy marriage culture. …Declining to review these cases does not speak one way or the other to the merits of the cases. But it does leave in place bad rulings from lower courts—and it will make it harder for courts to do the right thing in the future.

Nevertheless, as citizens, we must rally in support of our constitutional authority to pass laws making marriage policy. We must insist that law and culture promote the truth about marriage.

Neither is NOM’s Brian Brown:

…[G]iven what the Supreme Court has allowed to happen, the only alternative to letting unelected judges impose their view of marriage on Americans across the country is to pursue a process that will allow the American people to decide for themselves what is marriage. It is critical not only to marriage but to the republican form of government in this country to amend the Constitution to reaffirm the meaning of marriage. We therefore call on the US Congress to move forward immediately to send a federal marriage amendment to the states for ratification.

“We call upon Americans vigorously to contest this development by turning to the political process, starting with the upcoming mid-term elections. We urge voters to hold politicians accountable and demand to know if they will accept the illegitimate act of attempting to redefine marriage or whether they will stand with the American people to resist. In particular, we urge Republicans to hold their party leaders to account, and to demand that they remain true to their belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman which was a pillar of the party’s founding in 1856, and remains essential to society’s well-being today.

Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund), which is defending several of these states’ marriage bans, is doing all it can to keep that lipstick on the pig:

US Supreme Court holds off on taking up marriage issue

Monday, October 06, 2014

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday declining to hear cases involving marriage laws in several states, including petitions ADF attorneys filed in defense of Oklahoma’s and Virginia’s marriage laws:

“The court’s decision not to take up this issue now means that the marriage battle will continue. Several federal courts – including those in the 5th, 6th, 8th, and 11th circuits – still have cases working their way to the Supreme Court. ADF will continue to remain a leader in the critical effort for the freedom of the people. The people should decide this issue, not the courts.”

Thomas Peters in surgery

Timothy Kincaid

August 13th, 2013

As many of you know, Thomas Peters, the Director of Communications for the National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours), was critically injured in a swimming accident about a month ago. I’ve followed his progress on a website set up by his family to notify those interested in Thomas’ progress. It has been slow with tiny milestones measured in hours off a respirator and ice chips eaten. I don’t think anyone expects a full recovery.

I know that Peters has been an active and vociferous opponent of equality and an enemy of the belief that one should treat others with the respect you would appreciate. Nevertheless, he is a fellow human undergoing a tragic circumstance, and I believe that the harm he has caused has, ironically, come from a desire to do good. I fight his activism, but I wish him well personally.

Today he went into surgery to remove a broken vertebra in his neck, insert a metal replacement, and fuse it to the adjoining vertebrae. This is a challenging situation and a great concern to those who love him. If you pray, please include Thomas Peters in your prayers today; if not, please send him best wishes.


[I will be limiting comments on this thread to those that are positive and supportive]

NOM’s Thomas Peters Critically Injured (Updated)

Jim Burroway

July 17th, 2013

Catholic Vote has confirmed the numerous tweets saying that National Organization for Marriage’s Thomas Peters was seriously injured in a car accident. According to Catholic Vote, Peters “sustained major injuries. He is awake, responsive, and in stable but critical condition.” Elizabeth Scalia, who writes for several conservative Catholic publications (and who is not related to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia), tweeted that Peters neck was broken. There’s been no word from NOM yet.

Peters is NOM’s Director of Communications and resident young-guy-who-opposes-marriage-equality, vociferously. His father, Edward Peters, is a well-known Catholic canon lawyer and professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

I’ll echo what Rob Tisinai said. Culture wars are brutal things, but matters of life and death occupy a much higher plane of human concern. We all hope and pray for Peters’s epiphany on the central questions surrounding our families. More so, we hope and pray for his speedy recovery so that epiphany can occur. But in any case, whether that epiphany will ever occur or not,  we hope and pray for his speedy recovery.

Update: Peters’s father, Edward Peters, has posted the following information on Facebook:

Okay, I am sorry, but here’s some news.

Thomas Peters was seriously hurt in a swimming accident Tuesday evening. He fractured his 5th cervical vert. and is at Univ. Maryland Medical Center (Baltimore). Natalie Zmuda Peters is there, and the moms Angela & Becky Z flew out a couple hours ago. He moved an arm on command and is undergoing more tests. He has responded pretty well to the immediate steps taken for him so far. I will stay in touch here. Your prayers and well wishes are deeply appreciated.

Ed

Natalie Zmuda Peters is Thomas’s wife. A further update:

Thom can move his arms, docs are discussing the best treatment for his neck injury. Immediate concern is for the considerable water in his lungs. We are astounded at the expressions of prayers and support. Thom & Nat know about it. Please keep them up. Love from us all, EdP.

Best Wishes and Hopes for Thomas Peters

Rob Tisinai

July 17th, 2013

NOM’s communications director Thomas Peters has been in a serious accident:

Thomas was involved in an accident yesterday evening and has sustained major injuries. He is awake, responsive, and in stable but critical condition. Family and friends are with him.

I’ve tangled with him before and have been sharply critical of him, but today I wish him my best and send him all my hopes for a full and speedy recovery.

How to Inspire a Movement

Rob Tisinai

June 27th, 2013

started a movementOur opponents are putting their bravest faces. Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director, works with a group called Catholic Vote and is pushing the slogan, “The Supreme Court has not ended the debate. It has started a movement.”

That’s an odd slogan, practically an admission that they haven’t managed start a movement up to now. It makes them sound like a blustering loser. And what on earth does the antigay camp in general, and NOM in particular, know about starting or even inspiring a movement?

Actually, quite a bit. In fact they’ve already done it, by following these steps.

  • Target a tiny minority in the nation’s wealthiest and most populous state.
  • Shock the minority by stripping away a basic human right, one that affects their daily lives in a thousand ways.
  • Prove to them they cannot protect their liberty through a polite and deferential silence.
  • Force them to fight back by dehumanizing them, declaring their relationships inferior, and their very existence a threat to children.
  • Make sure you’ve chosen a state with an enormous media industry, one that is a beacon to the nation’s aspiring creative class.
  • Make sure you’ve chosen a minority represented heavily in that industry.
  • Tell ridiculous lies about the minority, lies that will outrage their straight coworkers, their friends and family, lies that can’t stand up in court.
  • Finally, then, all that’s left is to inspire this minority with what experts call a SMART goal — something specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.

And repealing Prop 8 was one smart goal.

Bingo! You’ve created a movement. You’ve created a whole generation of activists and reignited the passion of generations that came before. I’m a living example. I never got involved in the struggle until the antigay industrial complex inspired me to. You need a rally? I’ll launch a rally. And I already create instructional videos for work — why not do a few for the cause?

So it went. You like parties? I like parties. Let’s turn them fundraisers! Let’s make signs and graphics and blogs. Let’s write lesbians and gays into sitcoms and dramas, making them neither villains nor saints, treating them like real people. Let’s go door-to-door and website-to-website, sharing our stories. Let’s create a message of hope, dignity, optimism, and American idealism. Let’s inspire and teach the rest of the country, and let the rest of the country inspire and teach us.

Let’s go on being true — let’s just do it louder.

Of course, California wasn’t the first state to achieve marriage equality — it wasn’t even among the first ten. The fight didn’t begin in this state and it doesn’t end here. And frankly, California’s first lessons came from its mistakes and were about what not to do — not to be hidden, oblique, abstract. But still: California’s the state where NOM worked the hardest and ended up provoking the biggest response, poking the biggest tiger, releasing the biggest torrent, opening the biggest wallet — whatever metaphor you like.

So ultimately we have to give NOM credit. They do know how to inspire a movement. And as a result, Prop 8 and DOMA have been wiped from our nation.

Thanks!

Thomas Peters Drowning in Denial River

Rob Tisinai

June 26th, 2013

From Thomas Peters, Communications Director at NOM:

His little mental horizon is focused entirely on SCOTUS’ failure to go to the very limits of what it could do, stamping his foot at our celebration and insisting, “But you shouldn’t be happy!”

Hey, whatever it takes to convince your donors you’re not a complete waste of space, I guess.

Help me contact Thomas Peters at NOM!

Rob Tisinai

April 4th, 2013

I’ll have to push today’s video for the National Marriage Organization to tomorrow. Unlike my allies, Brian Brown and Thomas Peters of NOM, I don’t get paid to do this, and thus have other work to complete.

Speaking of Thomas Peters, could you all help me out? Thomas made me sad the other day when he tweeted this:

Actually, it wasn’t Thomas Peters who made me sad, but the gay activists who mocked him for this tweet. See, apparently Thomas’ very big brain is so very strained with his many main arguments against same-sex marriage that he has forgotten about his very sensible policy of blocking gay activists who address him with their real accounts.

I mean, he did that to me, and I totally deserved it. What kind of decent person would ambush the Communications Director of an organization by calling him at work to ask about one of the organization’s communications?

But I also realized — now that I’m blocked I have no way of telling Thomas I’ve switched to his side! Since I don’t have a video to post today, would you mind taking those 60 seconds to  tweet one or more of my videos to Thomas? And also to NOM?

I’d surely appreciate it. I feel confident in saying my little videos completely capture the spirit and depth of their organization.

PS  Here are some short links for you:

  • Redefining marriage: http://goo.gl/mVmp5
  • Think of the children: http://goo.gl/QQVlO
  • Leviticus: http://goo.gl/zzXY6

 

250,000 Children? Piffle!

Rob Tisinai

March 24th, 2013

I might have a little crush on NOM’s Communications Director, Thomas Peters — or perhaps I just mean it’s been a long time since a 30-year-old has given me such delight. And he continues to deliver.

NOM posted this excerpt of an NPR story on their blog (sorry, they didn’t link to the story itself). As you read, keep in mind they’re happy about what it says:

Surveys suggest that kids younger than 18 in same-sex families still number fewer than a quarter-million.

“It’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent,” says Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage, a leading group opposing same-sex marriage.

“The difference is that children raised by gay parents are very much in the media’s eye,” he says. “We see it on Modern Family. We see this hugely blown out of proportion. It’s why, by the way, in Gallup [polls], Americans believe that a third to a fourth of Americans are gay.”

Don’t you see Peters’ point? Let me paraphrase: We’re only denying family protections to a quarter of a million kids! That’s 250 thousand, not, like 250 gazillion! That’s barely the population of Orlando, only about 60,000 more people than live in Salt Lake City. What’s all this fuss over just a quarter of million kids? I mean, a quarter is somewhere around 25 cents, and nobody even cares about pennies!

And NOM — which is all about the kids, right? — is highlighting Peters’ quote, not apologizing for it.

Herein lies NOM’s strange and revealing contradiction. Peters, in this quote, is minimizing not just the number of kids in same-sex homes, but the number of gays as well, presumably to give the impression that this population of children is unlikely to grow. Factor in NOM’s other rhetoric, and you’re left with this:

  • We need to ban same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and father, and every child is important.
  • We can refute the need for same-sex marriage because only a quarter of a million kids are raised in such households, and they can be dismissed as “a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent.”

It seems the importance of children to NOM depends entirely on their argument of the moment.

Along these lines I’d like to detour for a moment into another NOM post called, “Examples of Excellent Testimony Against SSM in Minnesota” (their title, not mine). They approvingly quote this bit from Doug Mainwaring, their favorite gay who opposes gay marriage:

Doug (gay man): “marriage isn’t about love, commitment and responsibility–it’s about kids. Ignore the media push and adult demands for same-sex marriage.”

That is one of their “examples of excellent testimony.”  It leaves me thinking NOM has no idea why married parents are such a good thing for kids. Of course, it’s perfectly in line with Thomas Peters’ recent tweet about marriage: “Orientation doesnt matter, sexual difference does!”

Yeah. Marriage is all about the kids. But for NOM, apparently, a loveless, uncommitted, irresponsible opposite-sex couple is better for those kids than any same-sex couple you can find, because sexual difference matters so much more than those trivial concerns.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Thomas Peters. It’s fun. My only worry is that NOM could realize something might be wrong if your opponents are eager to publicize everything your Communications Director has to say.

Thomas Peters Update

Rob Tisinai

March 22nd, 2013

I’m trying to come up with some sort of pun using the term “facts evasion.” Because, you know, it sounds a bit like “tax evasion,” right? Right? No?

Anyway.

After posting my conversation with NOM’s Communications Director Thomas Peters yesterday, I alerted him to its existence:

In response, he blocked me.

That’s probably the sensible move for him, on a number of levels. But it does nothing to change my judgment that Thomas’ primary strategy for dealing with inconvenient reality is simply to ignore it. Once again, it seems NOM is guilty of facts evasion.

No? Still no? Really?

I might need some help with that one.

I Spoke to NOM Today!

Rob Tisinai

March 21st, 2013

The National Organization for Marriage has been spreading a host of falsehoods about research into same-sex parenting. Every so I often I lob a tweet about this to Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director. He never replies, which is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to know what he’d say when confronted with these blatant…inaccuracies.

And now I know. [Spoiler alert: He doesn’t say, “Oh, we’re awful, and I’ll fix it right away!’]

It began this morning when reader/warrior StraightGrandmother directed me to Maggie Gallagher in the National Review:

There are at least four reviews or studies in peer-reviewed literature that contest the claim that children do equally well with same-sex parents. (Regnerus, Marks, Sirota, Allen). None of which are mentioned by the American Academy of Pediatricians in their endorsement of gay marriage. They cannot cite a single scientific study in a peer-reviewed journal showing children with gay parents are better off if their parents are considered legally married. None of this matters. How serious are we about children’s well-being in this country?

Then I found this new press release on NOM’s website:

One recent large-scale random sample study that has been produced by University of Texas researchers found that those raised in a same-sex household fared worse than those raised in intact heterosexual families on two-thirds of outcomes measured. Nowhere in the AAP statement do they address the confounding scientific evidence by Regnerus, Marks, Sirota and Allen — all published in peer-reviewed journals. The AAP simply ignores them.

I know a bit about Regnerus and Sirota. Their studies tell us nothing about same-sex parenting. I called the phone number on the press release and spoke to a very nice press rep. She told me I should talk to Thomas Peters and gave me the number to his office. And I was all, Goody!

Well, Thomas was reluctant from the start: I’m not  a journalist, he doesn’t do impromptu interviews, and I should direct my questions to their press reps. I said a press rep had directed me to him. He hesitantly agreed to a conversation and asked whether I were recording it (no) and whether I were okay with him recording it (of course!).

I referred him to the press release quote above and asked if he were aware that the Sirota study did not look at same-sex parents. He slowly said no (I believe him) and asked what it did look at. I told him Sirota compared kids raised by straight dads with those raised by gay dads, but in both cases the dads were married to the mothers, so the study was really about opposite-sex parenting.

He told me he didn’t write the press release.

When I told him Regnerus hadn’t specified any results for kids raised by same-sex parents, he quickly agreed (that’s why I believed him about Sirota) and accurately characterized the study as looking at kids with a parent who’d had a same-sex relationship. I told him that NOM’s Rhode Island branch wasn’t describing it that way — they were falsely attributing these results to kids raised by lesbian couples.

At this point NOM’s Communications Officer told me if I had a problem with what NOM Rhode Island was saying I should talk to NOM Rhode Island.

(This was actually a screw-up on my part: I didn’t need to bring up NOM-RI. This falsehood was promulgated in the press release above!)

I pressed Thomas on the content of these studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s broader point that the AAP had simply ignored other research when they issued their politically-motivated endorsement. That sent me back into the details of studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s other broader point that there isn’t a lot of good research on the topic at all and I wondered whether that meant he was saying these studies supposedly against same-sex marriage weren’t good, either, and he said this was turning into more of a lecture than an interview, on which point he was probably correct, and he firmly and emphatically but not impolitely ended the call.

Whew.

So now I know what Thomas Peters will do when confronted with NOM’s falsehoods: He’ll act like facts don’t matter.

He won’t dispute the facts. He won’t admit NOM has the facts wrong. He won’t take responsibility for how the facts are communicated. Instead he’ll evade. He’ll change the subject. He’ll strategically retreat to discussing NOM’s broader points in order to avoid getting mired in the tiny points. Like facts.

Now, remember, I didn’t record the call, so I’m recounting this from memory. And I’m editorializing (just a bit?). But that, of course, is why Thomas records this sort of call. And if Thomas would like to release the entire, unedited audio of the conversation, I hereby grant him permission.

Somebody please let me know if he does.

Cue the calliope – NOM reacts to Portman

Timothy Kincaid

March 15th, 2013

We’re quite accustomed to the National Organization for Marriage saying things that are, shall we say, creative in their approach to facts. To put it in religious terms, the like to walk by faith, not by sight.

But today’s response to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announcing his support for equality is wacky to the point of clown car, looney toons, bad 70’s Disney annimation, complete wackadoodleness.

A spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage on Friday slammed Sen. Rob Portman, who has announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his long-held opposition to the issue.

“What Mr. Portman is doing is shrinking the size of the GOP tent,” charged Thomas Peters, a spokesman for the socially conservative NOM, in an interview with POLITICO. “I think it will have huge consequences if he chooses to run again.”

Sure, maybe there on Planet Completelynutso it would shrink the tent to include the majority of people who support equality. Maybe in Delusionville it’s a smart long term plan to side with the elderly and ignore everyone under 40.

But back here in reality, I’m beginning to think that Thomas Peters is in the market for a good tinfoil hat.

What ELSE Might They Be Wrong About?

Rob Tisinai

November 15th, 2012

Oh, it’s time for some fun. When Obama endorsed marriage equality back in May, the National Organization had something to say about it. It’s time to glance back at those statements and see just how well NOM understands America. I’ve bolded some of the juiciest bits in case you’re short on time, but the full quotes are worth reading, especially if you’re feeling especially schadenfreudy.

Let’s start with this headline, glorious in its certainty:

SSM Will Cost Obama Re-election Bid

The Obama campaign is beholden to gay marriage financiers and is counting on an energized base to carry him to victory this November. But it’s an approach that is likely to backfire, alienating large parts of the constituency that carried him to victory in 2008…President Obama’s announcement is likely to spark a divisive battle over same-sex marriage in the Democratic Party platform this summer. Same-sex marriage will be a defining issue in swing states, especially states like Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Nevada where state marriage amendments are threatened by President Obama’s position.

NOM gave us this quote from their favorite political consultant, full of sagacity and wisdom:

Frank Schubert: Obama’s Gay Marriage Gambit A Pinball Loser

The left is jumping for joy at their accomplishment, forcing President Obama out of the closet on gay marriage. Their celebration will be short-lived, though, because they have very likely cost him the presidency. The presidential election is not going to be decided in states like California where George Clunie and Nancy Pelosi are cheering President Obama’s gay marriage “evolution,” but based on how voters in a series of swing states cast their ballots – states like North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. President Obama and his buddies on the left have thrust the issue of same-sex marriage front and center in these swing states. How is that going to play? Not well for Obama.

Here’s NOM in all its foot-stamping determination:

NOM Promises Pro-Marriage Americans Will Defeat Obama This November For Abandoning Marriage

The definition of marriage was already headed for the ballot in four states this fall; now it will be one of the defining issues of the presidential election. No state in this country has ever voted for gay marriage. Just yesterday North Carolina voters sent a clear message that America wants to preserve marriage. We intend to win the marriage debate this November.

And you might say this one backfired on them:

Obama Abandons Marriage. Will America Stand For It? NOM Marriage News

Pres. Obama may be basking in the applause of the media, and rolling in cash from his gay millionaire bundlers, but American now has a clear choice: a president who supports gay marriage or one who stands with the majority of the American people.

How did that “clear choice” work out for you NOM?

That’s just a sampling. Browse their blog and you’ll find many more:

NOM’s Peters: Socially Conservative Democrats Will “Jump Ship” Over Obama’s Marriage Betrayal

Maggie Gallagher: Obama’s Gay Marriage Support Will Help Romney in 2012

NRO: Recent Polling Shows Romney Pulling Ahead Because of Marriage

This is sinfully delicious. NOM is currently in full damage control mode right, inventing reason after reason why they didn’t really lose on November 6. But no matter what they say now, they were simply, fully, and woefully wrong about Obama, marriage equality, and America. Instead of rationalizing away their disaster, they ought to be asking:

If we were so wrong about this, what else might we be wrong about?

But I suppose if they were that thoughtful and aware, they wouldn’t be in the business they’re in.