Thursday, October 01, 2009

New facts vindicate Kevin Jennings - the young man he counseled was of legal age

I was planning to post a piece comparing the pseudo controversy of children singing a song praising President Obama to past phony moral panics put on by the religious right.

But something caught my eye today via Americablog.

CNN covered the Kevin Jennings controversy and revealed a few facts that even I wasn't aware of.

And they aren't negative facts:

And if that's not enough, according to Media Matters:

. . . Jennings' attorney wrote in a 2004 letter that the student was 16 years old, which Jennings' book appears to support, and that 16 is -- and was at the time -- the legal age of consent in Massachusetts.

The funny thing about this is that a friend of mine, Matt Algren, has said from the beginning that the young man was the legal age of consent.

Take a bow, Matt. You nailed it!

I went to the mat for Jennings because I believed in what he was doing and I know how the religious right distorts situations.

Please don't think I'm gloating when I say this because I am not, but:

It feels good to be vindicated.

UPDATE - Peter LaBarbera gives statement about the latest developments in Jennings controversy

I wondered what folks like Peter LaBarbera felt about this new information.

LaBarbera published a lot of negative pieces on Jennings such as:

Was Troubled Teen Seduced by Adult Homosexual and Counseled by GLSEN Founder Kevin Jennings Really ‘Gay’?

Washington Times: Obama ‘Safe Schools’ Czar Kevin Jennings Enabled Sexual Predator of Teen Boy

I emailed LaBarbera saying that I felt he owes Jennings an apology. This is his reply:

You are so pathetic Alvin. Hanging on a technicality. You are as corrupt as the perverted movement you serve. Spare me the preaching.

So much for the Christian principle of apologizing when you are wrong.

Related posts:

Let's not be so quick to blame Obama if Kevin Jennings is dismissed

Washington Times publishes ugly hit piece on Kevin Jennings

The new attack on Kevin Jennings - he said something ugly about God

The continuing attacks on Kevin Jennings - now Fox News gets involved

The possible attack on the President's lgbt appointees

The tea party idiots - will they go after the lgbt community next?

Traditional Values Coalition attacks Kevin Jennings and . . . Tom Cruise?

Support Sean's Last Wish and Kevin Jennings

The religious right thinks that character assasination is a Christian virtue

The war against Kevin Jennings - now it's getting pathetic

Attacks on Kevin Jennings sleazy, un-Christian

More right wing lunacy on Kevin Jennings courtesy of Kevin McCullough

More attacks on GLSEN'S Kevin Jennings - Now the Family Research Council gets in the act'''

'Fistgate' and President Obama - religious right pushes a pitiful attempt of guilt by association

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Homophobic mess at Morehouse, Jennings answers critics, and other Thursday midday news briefs

Homophobic email about same-sex wedding spurs controversy at Morehouse College - Here we go again. Maybe if some folks didn't see black men as a "commodity," this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

A closer look at Donald Mendell, Stand For Marriage Maine's latest talking point - Another Maine anti-gay marriage point exposed as a distortion courtesy of

Obama official regrets advice to gay student - Hopefully the final word on the Jennings situation. I love the way Jennings pointed out certain facts about the controversy.

Catania unveils marriage bill - I love it! Harry Jackson will have a fit!

UN: 4 million on AIDS drugs, others still in need - We definitely need to do more.

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Family Research Council head misrepresents credible information to hurt ENDA

Recently, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins submitted testimony to Congress in opposition of Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The bulk of his testimony were anecdotes of supposedly how ENDA would hurt free speech.

As pointed out, at least one of his anecdotes was a distortion of the facts. Perkins claimed that the person in the case was able to sue because he was merely perceived as gay.

Perkins was making the point that the lawsuit in that case was frivilous.

But Jeremy Hooper from showed that the person in the case was not only perceived as gay, but also harrassed and fired because of that perception.

And I think I found another sly distortion from Perkins regarding ENDA. The part I want to address is in bold:

The principle at stake is whether personal disapproval of these chosen and harmful behaviors (homosexual conduct and sex changes) should be officially stigmatized under law as a form of bigotry that is equivalent to racism. Since such disapproval is the dominant viewpoint in the American public,explicitly taught by leading religions,and empirically supported by the negative health consequences of those behaviors

Perkins is pushing the "homosexuality has negative consequences" factoid that has served the religious right well for so many years.

The endnotes of his testimony says:

Evidence for the negative health consequences of homosexual conduct is available even from pro-homosexual sources such as the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. See their "Top Ten Issues to Discuss with Your Healthcare Provider" online at:

To echo Jeremy Hooper in his denunciation of Perkins, it's a matter of perception.

Perkins is pushing the notion that "if people engage in same-sex intercourse, they face negative consequences."

However, at no time does the Top Ten Issues even imply this. This is what it does say:

LGBT people have some unique health needs and concerns. Unfortunately, many health care providers don’t fully understand these issues, so it’s important to take charge of your health by asking your healthcare provider about the health matters that may apply to you.
The following lists will help you communicate even more effectively with your healthcare provider:

Now while this medical information breakdown does concede that in some cases, lgbts face bigger health problems than the heterosexual population, at no time does it ever say anything about these health problems being the "negative effects of homosexual behavior."

But it does say few things that Perkins may not appreciate. For example, take the subject of depression/anxiety in the lesbian community:

Lesbians have been shown to experience chronic stress from homophobic discrimination. This stress is compounded by the need that some still have to hide their orientation from family and colleagues at work, and by the fact that many lesbians have lost the important emotional support most others get from their families due to alienation stemming from their sexual orientation.

Or substance abuse:

Research indicates that lesbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women. This may be due to added stressors in lesbian lives from discrimination. Lesbians need support from each other and from health care providers to find healthy releases, quality recreation, stress reduction, and coping techniques.

Or how about this point regarding how difficult it is for the members of the transgender community to receive adequate health care:

Transgender persons are often reluctant to seek medical care through a traditional provider-patient relationship. Some are even turned away by providers. A doctor who refuses to treat a trans person may be acting out of fear and transphobia, or may have a religious bias against GLBT patients. It’s also possible that the doctor simply doesn’t have the knowledge or experience he needs. Furthermore, health care related to transgender issues is usually not covered by insurance, so it is more expensive. Whatever the reasons, transgender people have sometimes become very ill because they were afraid to visit their providers.

In other words, Perkins made the claim that being an lgbt has "negative health consequences," but cited a pro-gay document which in part said the health problems lgbts face have more to do with dealing with an unaccepting society.

If he weren't so consumed with using the material inaccurately, Perkins would realize that Ten Top Issues actually makes the case for ENDA. Less worries about how you would be perceived on the job as an lgbt leads to less stress. And less stress leads to good health.

Gone are the days when folks like Robert Knight brazenly cited Paul Cameron studies during their Congressional testimony.

But as Perkins proves, members of the religious right still have a way of distorting lgbt lives to suit their agenda.

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