Friday, April 10, 2009

NOM lies about David Parker controversy

In its "Gathering Storm" ad (which is slowly making my weekend interesting and fun-filled), the National Organization for Marriage included this lie:

“I’m a Massachusetts parent helplessly watching public schools teach my son that gay marriage is OK.”

Those who keep up with this blog and have read my book, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, know that NOM is referring to the David Parker controversy in which Parker, a Massachusetts parent, claimed that he was unfairly arrested because he didn't want his son's school to "teach" him homosexuality.

The claim is a huge lie. Earlier this week, Box Turtle Bulletin already covered the truth of this situation, but I want to go into more detail. This is a reprint from an earlier post and my book:

Distortion—David Parker objected to his child being exposed to homosexuality because it was an issue of sexuality and Joseph Estabrook Elementary refused to accommodate him

Truth—In a January 17, 2005 email to the school, Parker said: “There is a book included entitled, Who’s in a Family (with pictures) that include lesbian and homosexual couples with children—implicitly equating this family structure as a morally equal alternative to other family constructs. We stand firmly against this book or any other subject matter pertaining to homosexuality ever being indoctrinated to our child, discussed in school, or sent home. We don’t believe gay parents constitute a spiritually healthy family and should not be celebrated.”

Joseph Estabrook Elementary principal, Joni Jay, wrote Parker an email clearly saying homosexuality is not a part of the kindergarten curriculum. She also said she cannot control what students say to one another and that many children attending Joseph Estabrook Elementary live in same-sex households.

Point of fact: The entire controversy began because Parker’s son brought home a “diversity bookbag” with several items in it. Among them was a book showing certain types of families, including same-sex families. It was the only book in the packet that talked about anything of a homosexual nature.

Distortion—Parker was well within his rights because Massachusetts laws says parents must give permission to have their children discuss any issue involving human sexuality.

Truth—Parker was not well within his right because discussions of differing families, including gay-led households are not included in the parental notification policy. This is because it is not an issue about human sexuality. Principal Jay informed Parker of this on March 4, 2005. Jay said she confirmed this with the district assistant superintendent and the director of Health Education. She was answering an email in which Parker said that neither he nor his wife authorize any teacher or adult to “expose” his sons (Parker has two sons) to “any sexual orientation/homosexual material/same sex unions between parents.”

Point of fact: The night before Parker’s arrest, he addressed the Lexington School Committee during their public meeting. In his speech, he attempted to link gay-led households to sexual behavior:

“Children who are successfully indoctrinated that same-sex marriage is normal and correct will eventually understand that sexual intimacy is a part of this union. Let’s not be naive about the implied human sexuality aspect of same-sex unions. Let’s be honest with ourselves. When we accept same-sex unions, we accept its implied . . . sexual intimacy. These concepts are indeed inextricably linked.”

Distortion—David Parker was arrested because Joseph Estabrook Elementary did not respect his rights as a parent.

Truth—David Parker was arrested for trespassing. Even though his initial questions were answered, Parker persisted and finally received another meeting with school officials. According to a press release issued by William J. Hurley, Interim Superintendent of Schools and Christopher Casey, Chief of Police in Lexington, Parker and his wife requested that the school, in the future, ensure that teachers automatically remove their children from discussions of same-sex households, even if the issue rises spontaneously. It was explained to Parker and his wife that the policy allowing students to opt out of discussions of human sexuality was not relevant here and the Parkers’ request was “not practical” because children could discuss “such matters among themselves at school.”

When Parker and his wife were told that they could appeal the response to the Commissioner of Education, Parker did not want to. It was then that the two decided not to leave the school. The Lexington Police were called. Parker’s wife went to the couple’s car but he stayed. Two plain-clothed detectives came at 5:20 p.m. and a police lieutenant came at 6 p.m. All asked Parker to leave but he refused.

Distortion—David Parker did not intentionally get arrested. According to his lawyer, Jeffrey Denner:

“He (Parker) was invited to come in, he came in, there was a dialogue going back and forth, there were faxes sent back and forth to the school committee. His intent was not to get arrested. His intent was to establish a dialogue to protect his own children and other children as well.”—Father faces trial over school’s ‘pro-gay’ book, WorldNetDaily, August 4, 2005

Truth—According to the press release submitted by Hurley and Casey, Parker said “If I’m not under arrest, then I’m not leaving.” The press release also said Parker began calling people on his cell phone and a small group of people began arriving with cameras. Parker was finally arrested at 6:24 p.m. The group with the camera was waiting behind the police station and photographed his arrival.

Mass Resistance (Massachusetts conservative group) claimed that Parker was using his cell phone in order to keep his wife up to date with the meeting while she sat in the couple’s car.
Point of fact: There are pictures of Parker being arrested and led away by police on the Mass Resistance web page. Now how could any of this have happened by chance? For that matter, there are pictures of Parker addressing the Lexington School Committee the night before his arrest. The fact that these pictures are on the web page do give an impression of premeditation by Parker and Mass Resistance.

Distortion—David Parker got into this fight solely because of his concern for his children and what they are being exposed to in school.

Truth—Since his arrest, Parker has been speaking against gay rights in other states. On June 13 and 14 of that same year, he was the speaker in a six-town “Wake UP Maine” tour with Brian Camenker, the head of Mass Resistance. The purpose was to aid a Maine referendum against the recently passed bill outlawing discrimination against the gay community. A flyer was distributed showing Parker in handcuffs. The flyer also claimed that Parker “questioned the homosexual rights movement.”

The image of Parker in handcuffs had made its way around several web pages like some sort of bastardized picture of Che Gueverra. He also appeared in a commercial in another effort to overturn the Maine anti-discrimination bill.

And then don’t forget this interesting addendum:

In May 2006, Parker’s son was involved in a fi ght at school with a friend over seating in the school cafeteria. His son and the other student made peace with each other and continued to be friends. They even had a play date later that week. In addition, Parker was informed as to what happened.

However, less than a month later, the Mass Resistance sent out a press release claiming that Parker’s son was set upon by eight to 10 students who did not appreciate his fight against Joseph Estabrook Elementary. The press release generated considerable buzz with the anti-gay industry, as it was either run or referenced by many so-called “pro-family” web pages, including the Traditional Values Coalition and Concerned Women for America.

Joseph Estabrook Elementary School explained the true story in a press release. However, none of the so-called “pro-family” groups, including Mass Resistance and the Traditional Values Coalition, apologized for any of their claims about a conspiracy to hurt Parker’s son nor did they correct the error.

Articles and web pages used for this post:

Arrested father had point to make, The Boston Globe, April 29, 2005

Wake UP Maine Tour announced,, June 10, 2005

Massachusetts Men Speak Against Homosexual Rights,,
June 14, 2004

Coalition for Marriage to host David Parker at Littlefi eld Baptist Church, www., November 3, 2005

Father faces trial over school’s ‘pro-gay’ book, WorldNetDaily, August 4, 2005

Report: Christian Parent Arrested After Being Denied Say-Son in Son’s Education,
Agape Press, April 28, 2005

Dad Becomes Icon in Battle over Homosexual Agenda in Schools, Agape Press,
May 18, 2005

School dispute persists after plea deal is struck, The Boston Globe, October 27, 2005
Press release, Lexington Public Schools, May 2, 2005

David Parker’s Son Beaten Up on the Playground, Traditional Values Coalition,
June 15, 2006

New liberal strategy: Assault 7-year-olds, Kevin McCullough, June 16, 2006

Press release, Lexington Public Schools, June 16, 2006

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Friday midday news briefs

Faith Groups Increasingly Lose Gay Rights Fights - Hat tip to my friends at Americablog for pointing this out. I'm all broken up over this development. No doubt it will probably get the troops on the other side all spooked. But I think there is a happy medium that can be worked out.

Video: Happy Easter (and only Easter) - In which Focus on the Family truncates an speech by President Obama. I guess they figure why should Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck have all of the fun.

Maggie Gallagher’s PR Advisor Must Hate Her - Far be it from me to heap on the National Organization for Marriage. Then again, why not.

Gay conservative 527 launched to counter Log Cabin Republicans - Oh good Lord.

Vermont legislators ignoring Genesis lessons - That's right. God wants us all butt naked in a garden where we can frolic with all of the animals. Darn those Vermont legislators! Now we won't be able to!!
Why the National Organization for Marriage ad failed

It was a million dollar ad complete with technical effects. It featured people telling seemingly compelling stories. It presented the issue in a clear and concise manner.

It wasn’t supposed to fail.

But it did, big time.

How did it happen?

When it’s all said and done, the National Organization for Marriage’s commercial will be remembered as a huge debacle. Years from now, it will probably be looked at in the same vein of an Ed Wood movie- at college dorm parties complete with drinking games.

But for a while, I couldn’t figure out just why this ad resonated the way it did (and certainly not the way that the NOM had hoped).

Then the reason came to me.

The ad came across as a low budget Youtube version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

NOM head Maggie Gallagher consistently makes the same evasive argument in almost every talk show appearance - “if you believe in traditional marriage, then you are unfairly labeled a bigot.”

She does everything but hint about re-education camps for those who don’t agree with same sex marriage. Maybe she should have consulted with Rep. Michele Bachman and Janet Porter.

While this argument can be effective in the hit/miss world of talk shows and soundbites, it becomes less effective when people have time to assess it.

It’s nothing more than a scare tactic, really. And when given time, people tend to recognize scare tactics.

Especially when they are ensconced in a background of phony dark clouds and artificial thunder and lightning with actors talking about “the enemy” that threatens America.

It’s just too intense to be taken seriously.

Lgbts and our allies laughed with good reason at the silliness of the ad. But I venture to say that some people who viewed the ad came away feeling pretty stupid about opposing same-sex marriage.

I also think that some did not come away from viewing the ad with the notion of “My God, we have to stop this from happening.”

Instead there was a lot of “Who the hell are these crazy people who put out this dumb ad?”

NOM is facing a brave new world where people are slowly but surely beginning to realize that gay marriage is not so threatening. While we have a long way to go, the victories in Vermont and Iowa prove that gay marriage is no longer a consistently winning issue for the right.

They can no longer rely on dark clouds, talk of secret empires, and inscrutable enemies to get their point across.

But when that’s all you have, what can you do?