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…”
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Posts for May, 2008

32% of US Citizens Covered by Couple Recognition

Timothy Kincaid

May 29th, 2008

With the announcement by Governor Paterson of New York that his state would enact policies to recognize out of state same-sex marriages (in accordance with a court ruling), the gay citizens of the first and third largest states now can rest assured that their state government will honor their marriages.

Though same-sex marriages may (as of June 17th) take place only in Massachusetts and California, such marriages are now recognized in New York and (perhaps) Rhode Island. In total 63 million Americans, or 20.7%, live in marriage recognition states.

States that allow all or nearly all of the attributes of marriage under some other name, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Oregon, contribute another 18 million, or 5.9%. Those who offer limited recognition, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, have populations totaling 15 million or 5.0%.

In total 31.6% of US residents are able to avail themselves of protections for their same-sex families.

The sky hasn’t fallen.

Spare Change

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2006

This article appeared on the National Review’s web site today. Eve Tushnet reports on the June 10th “Love Won Out” conference, a gathering of evangelical ex-gay ministries, held in Washington D.C. These ministries are an important part of social conservatives’ ongoing efforts to oppose gay rights in the public square, especially in the areas of same-sex marriage, adoption, and anti-discrimination measures.

By framing homosexuality as a behavioral “choice” that can be changed with patience, persistence and prayer, these ministries seek to redefine the public’s understanding of homosexuality as an unchosen orientation. If homosexuality is chosen (goes the thinking) then there is no need to protect gay rights based on this chosen behavior. Many in the ex-gay movement even take this argument to its most extreme conclusion — that there’s no such thing as being gay.

So these “ex-gay” groups play an important role for social conservatives. However, Eve Tushnet observes:

What they (the ex-gay ministries) aren’t is what many conservative evangelicals seem to want them to be: the ultimate answer to the gay-rights movement. The groups’ problems are deeply embedded in their self-understanding.

What’s the problem? These ministries publicly proclaim that “change is possible” without the inconvenience of explaining what “change” means. It is assumed that through various therapeutic practices, a change in sexual orientation will take place. But when pressed, many ex-gay practitioners will admit that this isn’t realistic. According to Mike Haley of Focus on the Family:

“We don’t want people to believe that change means you have to be married and have to have kids,” he said, and then added, “The opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. We’re not trying to create people from homosexual to heterosexual.”

This message however is largely missing from the conference, and it’s also conspicuously absent from the slick brochures and billboards put up by Exodus International and other ex-gay ministries. The public face that these ministries provide is that they are offering therapeutic services for those who wish to change their sexual orientation. But on closer inspection, it becomes very clear that these ministries really aren’t offering a cure, but conversion. The same-sex sexual attractions remain. It is up to the individual to “resist temptation,” and when he or she fails (and most of them do), it becomes both a failure in faith and a failure in character. This sense of failing can be devastating, leading some to suicide and others to refusing to have anything more to do with Christianity.

Rita Price of the Columbus Dispatch reported similar findings among members of an ex-gay group in Ohio. One group member, speaking on the difficulty of trying to “change” commented that “This is my being. This is who I am. It’s like telling a black person to stop being black.”

So what does “change” mean? Is it a change in sexual attraction, or just a change in behavior? Ms. Price notes that for some participants, a change in behavior is enough. But for most, the internal schizm that must occur for sustainanble behavioral change is simply too much to handle.

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