Friday, February 11, 2011

PolitiFact catches anti-gay group NOM in a huge lie about gay marriage and children

The Pulitzer Prize winning site PolitiFact just called out the National Organization for Marriage for pushing a misleading statement.

And it's a huge lie - one that is central to the organization's argument against same-sex marriage:

In early January, just days after Lincoln Chafee replaced Donald Carcieri as governor of Rhode Island, advocates on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate ramped up their annual battle.

This year, the fight is taking on new intensity because, while Carcieri vowed for eight years to veto any bill to legalize gay marriage, Chafee supports it.

Recently, a leading opponent, the National Organization for Marriage, mailed brochures throughout the state that included the headline: "Imposing same-sex marriage has consequences." The brochure listed four "real consequences" of "redefining marriage to a genderless institution."

We chose to examine one of the claims: "Massachusetts’ public schools teach kids as young as kindergartners about gay marriage. Parents have no legal right to object!"

We contacted Christopher C. Plante, executive director of the Rhode Island chapter of NOM, who told us that many schools in Massachusetts -- where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2004 -- have books on the subject in their libraries.The "poster child," he said, is a picture book called "King & King," by Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland.

The book tells the story of a queen who decided it was time for her son, the prince, to marry. He rejects every princess she offers. Finally the last candidate enters, and the prince feels "a stir in his heart." But it was for the princess’s brother, Prince Lee.

The two marry, and the book says "everyone lives happily ever after." On the last page, the two princes kiss, with a red heart covering their mouths.

PolitiFact said that when they asked for examples of where this book is being taught to kindergartners, Plante referred them to Lexington, MA:

  . . .two couples -- David and Tonia Parker and Robert and Robin Wirthlin -- filed a federal lawsuit against Lexington school officials. The suit alleged that the Parkers’ son was given a book in kindergarten that depicts various forms of families, including one with parents of the same gender. And, the suit said, when the Wirthlins’ son was in first grade, he was read another book,  "King &King," in school.

PolitiFact went on to recount the Parker/Wirthlin lawsuit (a more in-depth version of the David Parker controversy is here) but was still not receiving any answers regarding the claim that "gay marriage is being taught to kindergartners in Massachusetts."

Plante referred PolitiFact to Kris Mineau, executive director of the Massachusetts Family Institute. The Massachusetts Family Institute is another so-called pro-family group. This is what Mineau told Politifact:

Mineau said he has been fighting same-sex marriage advocates for eight years and he is certain their message is being spread in schools throughout Massachusetts.

But he acknowledged he could not cite any examples other than Lexington. "I don’t have documentation of everything going on," Mineau said. "It’s very difficult to quantify."

Mineau also claimed that the outcome of the Parker/Wirthlin case (Parker and Wirthlin lost) supposedly "discouraged" parents from complaining.

PolitiFact then spoke with Jonathan Considine of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum, the Massachusetts Teachers Association, and Thomas Gosnell, president of the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts.

All of these groups and individuals said that they were not aware of any school, classroom, or situation in which gay marriage is being taught to kindergartners.

Politifact concluded thusly:
Bottom line: The National Organization for Marriage mailing says that Massachusetts public schools teach kindergartners about gay marriage. The wording, including the present tense verb, gives the impression this is happening now, in many schools.

But the group’s only evidence is two incidents five years ago. It’s possible that somewhere, in one of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, other kindergartners have been taught about same-sex marriage. But NOM couldn’t cite any other examples. We find its statement False.

PolitiFact is the same site which called out Sarah Palin for her "death panel" lie and also the Republican party for claiming that the Obama Administration was pushing a "government takeover of health care."

Both of these claims received the PolitiFact Lie of the Year for 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Depending on the reach of its claim, it's obvious that NOM's lie regarding "gay marriage being taught to kindergartners in Massachusetts" may be a front runner for the 2011 Lie of Year.

My bottom line - NOM either needs to back up its claim with some suitable proof or take back what it said and apologize for misleading people.

Hat tip to my online buddy Bob Barnes for pointing the article out to me. I took the liberty in bolding the word "false" in the PolitiFact statement.



Bookmark and Share

No comments :