Frank Turek, Anti-gay Martyr

Rob Tisinai

September 30th, 2011

My boss’s boss has scheduled a Habitat-for-Humanity team-building event for our department next Thursday.  The cause is worthy, but my initial reaction was decidedly less so:

A 90-minute drive and I’ve got to be there by 8am? [whine] To do manual labor? [whine] And as the group’s resident tall man who works out, guess who they’ll ask to dig the ditches and lug the heavy stuff? [whine].

Part of that’s just because I dread any disruption of my routine (sad, but true). Fortunately, if experience tells me anything, the day will be satisfying and fun, and I’ll be glad we did it.

Assuming my company doesn’t hire Frank Turek to run the team-building activities.

Frank Turek is the latest anti-gay martyr, an independent contractor who runs leadership and team-building exercises for big corporations.  Both Cisco and Bank of America cancelled contracts with him after their employees discovered he’s an anti-gay activist and author of a book opposing marriage equality.  NOM, of course, is all over this.  He’s the first poster boy for their new project against gay-sponsored oppression: Fired just for believing in traditional marriage!

As usual, the truth is more complicated. I don’t have Turek’s book, but he’s done us the courtesy of summarizing his thoughts online.  The lowlights:

  • Turek declares homosexuality is morally wrong and objectively harmful.
  • He uses thoroughly discredited research by Paul Cameron to spread lies about gay men (Paul Cameron has been booted from many professional organizations after scientists complained he distorted their research to promote anti-gay slander).
  • Turek claims gay parents regards their adopted children as trophies.
  • He repeatedly lumps homosexuality with murder, rape, and incest.
  • He tells us a gay man can be romantically attracted and committed to his partner, but cannot truly “love” him.  He actually begins his reply to “But Same-sex marriage is About Love”  by saying “Even if that were true…”

That last one is especially dehumanizing.

But there’s more. Here’s a video of him explaining homosexuality is part of humanity’s universal weakness for depravity. And another of him speculating that gays hate Western Civilization and the Declaration of Independence.

NOM, for some reason, doesn’t mention all that.  Nope, Turek is just “someone who was fired for holding a traditional marriage viewpoint.”  And to enhance his aura of martydom, this anti-gay author and lecturer actually had the nerve to say — on the radio! — that he was fired for his privately-held beliefs.

Enough background.  The issue is whether Turek is the victim of (to use the Vatican’s phrase) unjust discrimination.

No, he’s not.

Turek isn’t offering courses in some technical area like software training or bioassay analysis. He teaches leadership. Team-building.  Issues that focus on respect and trust.  How can he demonstrate respect for — and the gain the trust of — employees he’s characterized as immoral, depraved, America-hating creatures comparable to murderers and rapists, who reduce their children to trophies and cannot love their partners?

No one is shutting Frank up.  He’s exercising his freedom of speech (in an irrational, dishonest way), and Cicso and Bank of America are reacting in a perfectly sensible way.

Seriously:  If you were putting yourself out there, going on the radio, writing books, and working as hard as you could as a public figure spreading thoroughly-debunked lies that advance your political agenda against a group of law-abiding citizens…

…it would be reasonable for a business to decide against having you teach team-building and leadership to the employees you have publicly defamed.  It’s a rational decision, and this would be true whether the slander were directed at gays, straights, men, women, Catholics, atheists, evangelicals, Jews, Muslims, blacks, whites, Asians, or any other company staff.

This has been with me for a while, always in a distant, intellectual way.  That changed when my department scheduled its own team-building activity.  First I thought idly, What would I do if I showed up and Frank Turek were leading the day?

Then, during my hour-long commute, I had time to vividly wonder:  My god, what would I do if Frank Turek were leading the day?

The idea was horrendous.  My imagination swept me up and I began trembling with anger at the prospect.  Respect, trust, ethics, science-based thinking — these are my company’s stated leadership attributes.  Turek is disrespectful, dishonest, unscientific.  Would I silently eat my anger?  Or would I break in with snarky comments about hating Western Civilization? Which of these would contribute best to the team-building exercise?  Would I have other options?

Yes — I could go to my boss or his boss right away and explain.  And that would scare the hell out of me.

Our opponents have this vision of gay people as aggressive victims, seeking out — even hoping for — opportunities to flog normal people with our grievance.  But that’s not how it played out in my head.

My boss’s boss has put aside the staff’s daily work to gather us for a good cause and bring us together as a team. She’s allocated a chunk of her budget for Turek as a facilitator.  It’s the morning of the event, too late to cancel.  And here I am, telling her I cannot participate — even if Turek never says a thing about gays, even if he mouths all the right words and plays his part perfectly, I can’t be there because I could never accept the leadership expertise of a man who publicly defames me and my relationship, who would be a pure fount of hypocrisy if he dared speak of respect, trust, ethics, and science-based thinking.

I work for a gay-friendly company.  But that shit does not go down well.  Executives hate it when you mess with their plans, disrupt the work of all your colleagues.  No matter how good you are at your job, no matter what else you accomplish, you’ll always be the guy who fucked up Habitat-for-Humanity day.  You’ll carry that load for as long you’re there.

Then I snapped out of it.  My company (valuing respect, trust, ethics, and science-based thinking) would never hire Turek to teach leadership.  For a moment, though, I got a sense of what it would be like if they did.  The folks at Bank of America and Cisco?  The ones who reported Turek and got him released from his contract?  They’re not professional victims. They have guts.  They stood up for their dignity.   They’re heroes.

Timothy Kincaid

September 30th, 2011

If the name Frank Turek sounds familiar, it might be because you heard it here.

Bose in St. Peter MN

September 30th, 2011

Well put, Rob.

It struck me as hugely misleading, also, that he seems to equate losing one of his clients to any person with a full-time job being fired. See, because this happened to me, your livelihood is threatened, too!

The high-level gigs he delivers take years of careful relationship-building to win, and yet are just as quickly lost in the midst of competitive pressures. Doing a gig last year and having lots of supportive friends inside your client’s executive offices don’t mean you’re guaranteed a similar gig this year.

Even more grating, though, is that joining the fray as NOM’s #1 martyr makes further loss of clients a self-fulfilling prophecy. If his client roster is as peppered with Fortune 500 companies as he claims, many more of them are going to question their relationships with him.

The only reasonable conclusion is that Turek has known, for a long time, that his anti-gay work would one day cost him corporate clients. He’s been deftly navigating executive office suites and boardrooms during the same years that the execs were implementing non-discrimination policies for LGBT folks in hiring, promotion, and benefits. Success has required him to be deeply closeted about his anti-gay work, coming out only to a few kindred souls.

Outed now, as he expected, it’s time to shift his business model from 90/10 corporate/anti-gay to 50/50 or 30/70.


September 30th, 2011

If they really want to be martyrs, I suggest they die first. Martyrs are dead, not alive. I guess someone forgot to tell them that.


October 1st, 2011

I think it is rather telling that conservative anti-gays suddenly descend into fascism? communism? some other weird economic system? when these sorts of issues arise.

When someone makes an anti-gay statement, gay people and pro-gay corporations can’t choose not to spend money on said person or said person’s business. If that sounds confusing, it is because it is such a deeply confusing position to take. They literally want to dictate where we spend our money.

J. Peron

October 1st, 2011

This is a guy who claims that gay people hurt others and should be illegal and the hurt he mentions is that they offend people like him. Apparently offending others by existing is harm to others. So, how does that principle not apply to him?

He is clearly a pathetic scholar who makes shit up as he goes along. In his book on victimless crimes he claimed that Roger Williams signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. To have accomplished that deed Williams would have had to have died at the age of 173. So much for accuracy. Clearly Williams signed neither.

Jim Hlavac

October 2nd, 2011

He lost his client because he’s an incompetent fool; not because of what we did – he should take responsibility for his own actions instead of blaming us for his woes. And in fact, he should thank us for providing him with a new job! Why, he and Maggie Gallagher, Sprigg, Perkins, all of them, on and on through the incestuous polygamy of the NO GAYS! movement, they all have jobs because of us! We wake up; they’re employed. Do they thank us? No, they do not.

Interestingly, however, is that the word “turek” (if he’s of Czech/Slovak heritage, which is likely, since it’s a Czech word, like my last name is a Czech word, too,) means “turnip farmer” or “turnip dealer.” From “Turn, turin” = a turnip. Egad, he lives up to his name; he’s a turnip head.

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