Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Family Research Council - the hate group hangs itself with its own words

I've written so many times about why the Southern Poverty Law Center was correct to name the Family Research Council as an official anti-gay hate group. But this time, let the Family Research Council and its spokespeople themselves give you proof of the group's much deserved designation:

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What does Tony Perkins know about 'Godly' leadership? and other Tuesday midday news briefs

If you have not seen this morning's post - dissecting the distortions behind NOM's talking points and making the case for marriage equality - I suggest that you do. Link to them, post them on your blog, send them to your friends and family.

On the anti-equality crowd's blogger cherry-picking: We matter when it's opportuni$tic - Bet on seeing this deceptive talking point about "gay recruitment" in New York and especially Minnesota. In the absence of logic, some folk use fear to get what they want.

Lisa Miller Is Still On The Run - She ought to be ashamed of herself for keeping her daughter away from her other mother.

Transgender McFatter senior crowned prom queen - Good for her. Goodness and true beauty always wins out in the end.

Perkins: America Needs Godly Leaders - Perhaps it does. But what does that have to do with Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council or the rest of the religious right?

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Marriage Equality - Simple answers to NOM's complicated lies

There is no justifiable reason to deny the gay community (and I am speaking about lgbts in a colloquial sense) the right to marry. However, what the gay community seems to be lacking is a way to break this issue down into simple, true points which demonstrates the necessity of marriage equality in spite of organizations who mobilize people (through ignorance and fear) against marriage equality. By refuting the points of one of these groups - the National Organization for Marriage - with accurate, simple information, we can not only prove the need for marriage equality but also show the basic emptiness of arguments against marriage equality.

As evidenced by its talking points, the National Organization for Marriage is taking a highly deceptive tone in its supposed "defense of marriage."

The idea that "marriage has to be defended" is nothing more than a cynical talking point designed to take attention away from the true issue - the lives of same-sex couples and especially the livelihood of children in same-sex households.

And it is a talking point which fuels NOM's tactic of creating division on many levels - same-sex households vs. heterosexual two-parent household, the lgbt community vs. the heterosexual community, the black community vs. the lgbt community and so on. This "divide and conquer" strategy, created via a passive/aggressive subterfuge, is designed to appeal to people's fears, jealousies, and ideas of religious superiority rather than their belief in basic fairness.

The truth of the matter is marriage is not "under attack." It has never been "under attack."

But what is under attack is truth, integrity, and basic fairness for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples and especially their children who seem to be nothing more than chess pieces in NOM's game of exploitation and manipulation, as evidenced by the following talking point:

NOM - "Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us."

 Truth - Allowing gays and lesbians to marry does not "redefine marriage" for the entire country because they are not forcing heterosexuals to engage in gay marriage. It's 100% false. And the gay community don't have a right to live as they choose, per the currently unequal laws of this nation in terms of employment, housing, etc.

Unfortunately, generalizations and straw man arguments encompass more of NOM's talking points. The following are the list of said talking points, as well as logical answers which refutes them:

Answers to NOM's "Frequently Asked Questions"

NOM - 1. Are you a bigot? “Why do you want to take away people’s rights?”
“Isn’t it wrong to write discrimination into the constitution?”
A: “Do you really believe people like me who believe mothers and fathers both matter to kids are like bigots and racists? I think that’s pretty offensive, don’t you? Particularly to the 60 percent of African-Americans who oppose same-sex marriage. Marriage as the union of husband and wife isn’t new; it’s not taking away anyone’s rights. It’s common sense.”

Truth - This an unfair generalization of the argument for marriage equality. However, if one was to go there, one could point to the many instances of those claiming to protect marriage making homophobic comments which belie the claim that they simply believe that "mothers and fathers matter to kids."

For example:

Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage has called homosexuality “an unfortunate thing” which represents “at a minimum, a sexual dysfunction.”

Jason McGuire of New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation (NYFRF) has compared marriage equality to child abuse.

Alveda King, a conservative African-American activist, called marriage equality "genocide."

National Organization For Marriage of Rhode Island executive director Christopher Plante called same-sex families "tragic situations" akin to families with divorced or even dead parents.

The Minnesota Family Council (who is partnering with NOM to stop marriage equality in Minnesota) recently pushed information on its web page linking the gay community to bestiality, pedophilia, and the consuming of urine and human excrement.

NOM - 2. Isn’t the ban on gay marriage like bans on interracial marriage?

A: “Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races apart so that one race could oppress the other. Marriage is about bringing two sexes together, so that children get the love of their own mom and a dad, and women don’t get stuck with the enormous disadvantages of parenting alone.” “Having a parent of two different races is just not the same as being deprived of your mother—or your father.”

Truth - Racists believed that interracial marriage would create genetically inferior children. Some opposing marriage equality claim that it would create conditions placing children in danger.

But neither view is backed by science. Children born from interracial relationships are not inferior. In that same vein, the majority of studies which look at children in same-sex households have found that they suffer no adverse effects.

NOM - 3. Why do we need a constitutional amendment? “Isn’t DOMA enough?”

A: “Lawsuits like the one that imposed gay marriage in Massachusetts now threaten marriage in at least 12 other states so far. We need a marriage amendment to settle the issue once and for all, so we don’t have this debate in our face every day. The people get to decide what marriage means. No-end run around the rules by activist judges or grandstanding San-Francisco-style politicians.

Truth -  Organizations like NOM favor voter referendums where they pour millions of dollars into commercials and flyers which rely on inaccurate studies or the repetition of false horror stories designed to scare people into voting against marriage equality. NOM brags about how people in states like California and Maine voted against marriage equality, but the organization always omits the part about how these voters were manipulated by fears of the "gay agenda coming for their children." NOM and other organizations opposing marriage equality are probably fearful of defending their arguments in court because as lawyer David Boies said, "the witness stand is lonely place to lie."  We saw this in the 2010 Proposition 8 trial when no one from NOM testified for the California law banning gay marriage.

NOM - 4. What’s the harm from SSM? “How can Adam and Steve hurt your marriage?”

A: “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.”

Truth -  What about the rights of same-sex couples? Also, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home and no doubt, that number has increased. And according to Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles, Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children. What about the rights of these families?

NOM - “If courts rule that same-sex marriage is a civil right, then, people like you and me who believe children need moms and dads will be treated like bigots and racists.”

Truth - This is a distortion. Same-sex households are not in competition with heterosexual households. Children need family environments which give them love and support.

NOM - “Religious groups like Catholic Charities or the Salvation Army may lose their tax exemptions, or be denied the use of parks and other public facilities, unless they endorse gay marriage."

Truth -  No religious group (or any individual for that matter) will be forced to endorse anything.  Those are just words used to scare people. And tax exemption controversies have nothing to do with marriage equality, but rather how far should religious exemptions go if religious charities demanding these exemptions are using tax dollars. For example, is it fair for Catholic Charities in Illinois to have the right not to allow gays to adopt children they care for even if these charities are receiving over $30 million in tax dollars (after all, the gay community does pay taxes).

NOM - “Public schools will teach young children that two men being intimate are just the same as a husband and wife, even when it comes to raising kids.”

Truth - This is a lie. The nonpartisan webpage Politifact found that this claim was inaccurate. In Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, same-sex intimacy is not in the curriculum. Even those who oppose marriage equality, such as Marc Mutty - who helped lead the charge against it in Maine - said that this claim is hyperbole geared to motivate people through fear.

In reality, conversations about same-sex households probably happen already in schools amongst the students themselves. Again, according the 2000 U.S. Census, 33 percent of female same-sex couple households and 22 percent of male same-sex couple households reported at least one child under eighteen living in their home. It's safe to say that a vast number of these children attend public schools. Is it fair for them not to be able to talk about their families?

NOM - “When the idea that children need moms and dads get legally stigmatized as bigotry, the job of parents and faith communities trying to transmit a marriage culture to their kids is going to get a lot harder.”

Truth -  . Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not "legally stigmatize" two-parent heterosexual families as "bigotry." Same-sex couples with children are not in competition with mother/father couples. And to infer this is saying that families should be subjected to a caste system where one family is inferior to another simply because of make-up. That is un-American.

NOM - “One thing is for sure: The people of this state will lose our right to keep marriage as the union of a husband and wife. That’s not right.”

Truth - What about the rights of same-sex couples or same-sex couples and their children? Don't they have a say in this matter?

NOM - 5. Why do you want to interfere with love?

A: “Love is a great thing. But marriage isn’t just any kind of love; it’s the special love of husband and wife for each other and their children.”

Truth - Giving same-sex couples the right to marry does not interfere with anyone's marriage or the love of their children.  And love in a same-sex household between partners and between parents and children is no different than in a heterosexual household. Here, NOM is trying to define love, something they often accuse gay activists/ the state of doing.

NOM - 6. What about benefits? Don’t gay couples and their kids need the benefits and protections of marriage?”

A: “If medical proxies aren’t working, let’s fix that problem. If people need health care, let’s get them health care. Don’t mess with marriage.”

Truth - It goes beyond medical proxies. Why should gay and lesbian tax-paying citizens have to jump through hoops to get the same benefits as heterosexual marriage couples? And often these extra burdens are extremely costly. Plus they are not easily recognized like the currency of marriage is. Imagine having your partner of 20 years in the hospital with a serious injury, and having to explain why, exactly, you qualify to be by his or her bedside.

NOM -  “The issue isn’t benefits, it is marriage. Local folks can decide benefits. This is about the meaning of marriage, our most basic social institution for protecting children."

Truth - There have been  instances in which organizations who claim to be simply "protecting marriage" have interfered with local communities deciding these issues of  benefits on the claim that granting these benefits is a "backdoor way" to gain same-sex marriage. In Wisconsin, a "morality group" is trying to overturn the state law which allows gay couples to have hospital visitations.  Also, marriage in itself does not protect children from abuse, neglect, etc. However, the denial of marriage rights harms children. Not only children of gay parents, but also children who have gay family members, who constantly hear how controversial their loved ones supposedly are.

NOM - 7. Isn’t divorce the real threat to marriage?

A: “High rates of divorce are one more reason we should be strengthening marriage, not conducting radical social experiments on it.”

Truth - Denying same-sex couples the right to marry does not hinder the high rate of divorce. Nor does it strengthen heterosexual marriage. Also, it's highly offensive to say loving, tax-paying couples make up a "radical social experiment."

NOM - 8. Are you saying gays cannot be good parents?

A: “Two men might each be a good father, but neither can be a mom. The ideal for children is the love of their own mom and dad. No same-sex couple can provide that.”

Truth - The ideal environment for raising a child is one that provides love and support. No one is bashing the heterosexual mom/dad dynamic by pointing out the simple fact that this dynamic is not the reality for a lot of families. Also, multiple studies demonstrate that children in same-sex households are not harmed by this environment. NOM's definition is not only offensive -- it's intellectually vacant. Under NOM's definition, single mothers and fathers are just as "bad." Lastly NOM's point is very contradictory. There are many households where children are not with "their own" mom and dad, i.e. adoptive households.

NOM - 9. What about older or infertile couples? If they marry why not same-sex couples?

A: “Every man and woman who marries is capable of giving any child they create (or adopt) a mother and a father. No same-sex couple can do this. It’s apples and oranges.”

Truth - Again, not all families have a mother and a father in the household. If we base the worthiness of families based on this dynamic, how soon will it be before we start bashing single-parent households or heterosexual married couples who choose not to have children?

All in all, NOM's talking points are nothing more than smoke and mirrors. They are a perfect example of the saying -  "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Furthermore, they are also strategically worded to take all onus off of what NOM, as an organization, actually does on a daily basis. NOM's talking points are also deeply offensive to many (LGBT people and supporters alike). And perhaps most of all: They do not come close to matching the reality of the world.

Talking points developed by Jeremy Hooper and Alvin McEwen. Feel free to link to or copy and paste these points.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

NOM throws Janet Corwin to the wolves after election upset

Republican Janet Corwin's recent upset loss in a New York Congressional race to Democrat Kathy Hochul -  that everyone initially gave her no chance of losing - has totally vexed the Republican party to no end.

But one can always count on NOM to advance the theory that Corwin's loss had less to do with her embracing of Rep. Paul Ryan's controversial plan to end present-day Medicare and more of the fact that she was not hot-button enough on social issues:

Pundits are parsing the loss to the Democrats of NY 26--Jack Kemp's old district--in the special election Tuesday. Fears that Paul Ryan's Medicare plan would hurt seniors was clearly issue number one. But Human Events noted how the candidate Jane Corwin, ran away from social issues that could have helped her:
So it was in New York-26 last night. Were it not for the presence of so-called “Tea Party” candidate Jack Davis (who drew about 9% of the vote) or a Corwin campaign that is increasingly being faulted by national conservative and GOP operatives, the results might have been different.
“The only thing the political consultants advising the Corwin campaign seemed to be able to do smartly was cash their big checks,” said former Rep. Fred Eckert (R.-N.Y.), leader of the state Ronald Reagan forces in 1976 and a onetime town supervisor of Greece, N.Y., (within the 26th District). “It’s too bad there is no such thing as malpractice for political consultants, or Jane Corwin could press charges and the whole dumb gang of them would have to pay fines and serve time.”
Eckert was referring to the failure of the Corwin campaign to bring up what he called “hot-button” topics, such as Hochul’s strong pro-abortion stance, including support for the controversial late-term abortion. In addition, he noted the Democrat’s support for same-sex marriage. Corwin described herself as pro-choice but against any federal funding and late-term abortion. She was also foursquare in favor of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Eckert noted that “this district has a strong Roman Catholic population and Hochul is a Roman Catholic. Had the Republicans defined where she stands on those two issues, it might have made a difference.”

The idea that Corwin didn't hit the "right social issues" enough will probably be the standard talking point of the religious right. But it's bizarre that NOM would suddenly turn on her seeing that the organization gave her campaign almost $6,000.

Also NOM conveniently omitted this fact:

Corwin appeared at an event  . . . for a conservative Christian group called the New Yorker’s Family Research Foundation. The foundation’s president, the Reverend Jason McGuire, has likened same-sex marriage to child abuse and asserted that gay New York State legislators, such as Sen. Tom Duane and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, are going “against God’s word” by supporting marriage equality and face “an eternity in hell,”

I hope other candidates who working with NOM (surreptitiously or openly) to derail marriage equality is paying attention to this about-face.

And yes, that means you, Ruben Diaz.

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Civil conversations about gays should not involve pedophilia, bestiality, or feces

The American Family Association (AFA)'s phony news service, One News Now has covered the recent vote by Minnesota legislators to put the issue of gay marriage up for a vote in 2012.

Par for the course with One News Now, only person - a religious right figure - is quoted in the story. Now usually when I point this out, it's to show how hypocritical this supposed Christian news service (and the AFA) are. But this time, one has to simply be amused by not only who One News Now chose to quote but also what this source says. The source is Chuck Darrell of the Minnesota Family Council (MFC) and he said the following:

"We have some work to do, but what's great about it is that we've got an 18-month period that's going to allow the people of Minnesota to have a conversation -- a civil, respectful conversation -- about why the amendment should be adopted and the importance of marriage."

Bear in mind that this is the same Minnesota Family Council who was recently busted for spreading inaccurate information via its site that gays engage in pedophilia, bestiality, and the consuming of urine and feces. It also cited the work of discredited physician Paul Cameron. Since this discovery became public, the Minnesota Family Council scrubbed these references from its site. However, you can still view the information here.  To top it off, even though the items were removed, the head of the Minnesota Family Council, Tom Pritchard, actually defended the material:

Prichard defends the postings as getting "into the nature of homosexuality and homosexual behavior," but says that won't be the focus of his group's efforts to pass the constitutional ban. "The focus of this campaign is the nature and purpose of marriage -- not a referendum of homosexuality per se, or its lifestyle activities and behaviors," he says. "I would see that as a separate issue."

I cringe to think about MFC's definition of a "civil, respectful conversation."

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

A video montage of the Eddie Long scandal

Remember days like this:

I know who I am, "Bishop" Eddie Long. I'm the gay guy who knows that my sexual orientation is a blessing from God. I am also the guy who didn't have to pay a secret settlement (rumored to be $15 million) to four young men who claimed that I sexually abused them.

But rather than expound on it further, I will let the following videos speak for me. I apologize to those who offend easily:

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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Best of Know Your LGBT History

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I thought I would create a special edition of Know Your LGBT History which will look at the best (and the worst) clips from the 100+ episodes of this segment which analyzes portrayals of the lgbt community on movies and television

Let's look at the worst:

From Cruising  (1980), an awful movie starring Al Pacino as a New York City police officer who infiltrates the so-called sadomaschistic world of homosexuality in order to find a serial killer of gay men. And this serial killer doesn't just kill gay men, he butchers them slowly and painfully (a point driven unnecessarily by the first murder scene.) There are no redeeming qualities to this movie. The gay characters are from the pit of a joint fantasy by Peter LaBarbera, Lou Sheldon, Matt Barber, and Donald Wildmon. They are pathetic individuals who, when not being murdered, are either immersing themselves in vile festishes or being intimidated into having sex with police officers. And yes the lgbt community protested like hell when this movie came out:

To the episode of the 1970s television series Police Woman. This episode, Flowers of Evil, dealt with three lesbians (named The Butch, The Bitch, and the Femme by the media) running a retirement home, stealing money from their residents, drugging them, and then gruesomely murdering them. This episode was awful. It was so bad that when the lgbt community protested, it was never shown on television again. However it is available on the Police Woman dvd and as you can see, as an abridged version online:

To I Got The Hook Up (1998),  just a plain hot mess which should have NEVER been made. For the purpose of this site, the offensive part starts at 2:39:

But there have been some really good portrayals.

Like this episode of The Jeffersons which looked at how main character George Jefferson dealt with learning that his navy buddy has transitioned to a woman. It was an episode ahead of its time:

And then there's Maude, another show ahead of its time when it comes to lgbt issues:

And then there is my personal favorite, the ending of the British movie Beautiful Thing (1996), a story about first love. If anyone ever asks what being an lgbt is all about, show them this scene. It's about love, honey.And I especially love the way the mother dances too in order to show support and protection to her son and his boyfriend:

Past Know Your LGBT History Posts:

Minnesota group quickly becoming liability to NOM and other Friday midday news briefs

Audio: Minnesota Family Council becomes even more of a liability to 2012 'protect marriage' fight - Keep posting on these folks, Jeremy. Let folks see what they think of us. "Respectful conversation" my foot!

Video: TN joins the south, again, land of the backwards bigots - A perfect way to describe the state's war on lgbts.

Catholic Charities of Rockford ends foster care, adoption services - Bye! Those tax dollars you received for your services belong to lgbts also. Don't take state monies if you can't follow the rules which come with that money.

After Forcing A Vote On Anti-Gay Amendment, NOM Wonders Why MN Has No Budget - NOM attacks Minnesota's governor on the fact that the legislature couldn't come together for a budget. Of course the organization omits that those "we need to protect marriage from those evil gays" shenanigans took up the majority of time which could have been devoted to the state developing a budget.

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It's over. Eddie Long settles sex abuse lawsuits

It's going to be a long time before Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church makes any anti-gay statements or leads any marches against gay marriage :

Attorneys involved in the four lawsuits against Long, the LongFellows Youth Academy and the 25,000-member Lithonia megachurch said the case had been settled but declined to comment further. The case is expected to be dismissed "with prejudice" -- meaning the defendant cannot be sued by the plaintiffs again in the same alleged offense -- by close of business Friday, said Barbara Marschalk, who represents New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and Long Fellows Youth Academy.

B.J. Bernstein, who represents the four men who sued Long, New Birth and the academy, also confirmed the lawsuits had been settled. The academy was named in three of the suits.

Long, pastor of the Lithonia megachurch, which has an international following, had denied the men's allegations through a spokesman shortly after they first became public in September and told his congregation he planned to "vigorously" fight them.

The accusations made against Long by Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson alleged that the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relations.

Rumors online are that the settlement is between $4 and $15 million. I guess we will never know the truth about that just like we may never know the truth about what actually happened.

Related post:

Eddie Long scandal - Chronology of what has happened and where we are now

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NOM continues its game of lies in New York and Minnesota

In his legendary book, The Art of War, Chinese general Sun-Tzu said that all war is based on deception.

If the National Organization for Marriage has that quote written prominently at its headquarters, I wouldn't be surprised.

Brian Brown and the NOM are both trumpeting a poll which supposedly shows that a majority of folks in Minnesota actually favor the amendment against gay marriage. There is just one problem though. The pertinent part of NOM's post is highlighted:

A new Survey USA poll shows Minnesotans favors the marriage amendment 51 percent to 40 percent. Local ABC News reports:
The vote on the gay marriage amendment in 2012 could be a close one, according to our exclusive new SurveyUSA poll. In our survey of 552 registered voters on May 23 and 24, 51% say they support the amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Another 40% say they oppose the amendment, while 8% say they wouldn't vote on the issue and 2% are undecided. This is a significant change from our last poll in March when 62% favored the amendment banning gay marriage and 33% were opposed. Both sides anticipate multi-million campaigns, including television and radio ads and a major social media effort.

In just two months, 11 percent moved from favoring the amendment. Seven percent moved to not voting for the amendment. Don't let anyone fool you about this. It represents the simple fact that the momentum seems to be on the side of those opposing this awful amendment. And if they work it right, they won't lose this momentum. Part of this is knowing what is coming in terms of NOM's game plan.

In a long-winded letter to supporters, Brown doesn't even address this crucial fact regarding the poll. Of course he doesn't address the controversy involving NOM's partner in Minnesota - the Minnesota Family Council and its claims about gays being into bestiality, pedophilia, urine, and feces - but that's to be expected from Brown and NOM.

But Brown does try to pull a fast one on folks:

A reporter for a local news site interviewed people on the streets of Bed-Stuy, a Brooklyn neighborhood. "Most Bed-Stuy residents we spoke to were in favor of traditional marriage," according to the Bed-Stuy Patch:
Jason, a 26-year-old computer tech walking along Fulton Street back to work, concurred. "I don't care what the next man does, but God didn't intend for two men to get married nor two women. That just makes everything untraditional. After you pass same-sex marriage you're just throwing religion out the door."

"I don't believe in same-sex marriage, but to each their own. If that's what the people want to do... but I don't believe that it should be a law," said another Bed-Stuy resident who declined to give her name.

That sounds terrible, except for one thing. According to Jeremy Hooper from the blog Goodasyou.org, NOM is making a huge mountain out of a small molehill:

. . . wherein reporter Cleon Alert quotes eight people who he spoke to on a neighborhood street corner. No, I'm not kidding you: That is literally all they are working from here. NOM is taking this one random report, in which five Bed-Stuy locals say they are against same-sex marriage and three express support, and using it to say that this Brooklyn neighborhood is opposed to marriage equality for gay couples. 

It's going to be a long haul when one takes into account how the depths that NOM will stoop to. I would suggest that those in New York keep calling their legislators to advocate for marriage equality. Those in Minnesota shouldn't be disheartened.  Organize now. Know the tactics of NOM, spell out reasons why this awful amendment is damaging to the state, support organizations fighting the amendment, and above all, tell your friends and neighbors.

That last message particularly goes out to lgbts in Minnesota. Come out and tell your stories as often as possible.

For those wishing to donate their time or funds, go to Minnesotans United for all Families.

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Told ya! Religious right lies about gender identity lessons to demonize lgbt community

In my post this morning, I predicted that religious right spokespeople would exploit a California gender diversity lesson to rail against the lgbt community and marriage equality.

And it didn't even take a day before it happened.

Tony Perkins, head of the anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council, was invited on Fox News to "talk" about the situation. Of course it being Fox News, no one who actually had anything to do with the lesson was present.

And Perkins was his usual lying, sleazy self, throwing out catchphrases such as "indoctrination" and connecting the lesson to gay marriage:

Our children should be able to go into a safe environment. They should be safe from bullying and they should also be safe from indoctrination into homosexuality.… I mean, how far are we willing to go with this? When you consider that only seven percent of the animal kingdom is monogamous in their sexual relationships, is that what we’re saying our kids should aspire to? [...]

Schools should be teaching reading, writing and asthmatic, not comparing their sexuality to fishes…This is part of a bigger agenda and this is the problem that Americans are waking up to as this idea about same-sex marriage and all this is working its way through. This is a part of a process of indoctrinating children at very young ages at the expense of actually teaching them what they need to be successful at.

And of course it being Faux News, I mean Fox News, several things were omitted  or not emphasized enough about the lesson.

1. It had nothing to do with gay marriage. From an article about the lesson:

Principal Sara Stone has said the lessons are part of a larger effort to provide a more welcoming and safer classroom environment.

2. Parents knew about the diversity lessons beforehand and were able to opt their children out if they desired to do so.

This monstrosity of a news report underscores a pertinent issue involving debates and truth. Sometimes it doesn't matter what the truth is if you can control who is doing the talking.

And if you can control who is doing the talking, then you can control the narrative.

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Announcing a summer tour FOR marriage equality and other Thursday midday news briefs

Because anti-equality road trips are soooo last summer - A summer bus tour FOR marriage equality? I'm for it. Let's get the word out!

NOM’s Faux Outrage Over ABC’s “What Would You Do?” Segment - For an organization with so much money, NOM is getting desperate in findings ways to demonize the lgbt community.

Pro-Marriage GOPer in NY Assembly has message for fellow Republicans - Sweet! We ain't there yet but we are gonna to get there!

In response to Maggie Gallagher’s ‘Cuomo and Bloomberg’ question - People who live in glass houses, Maggie . . .

Guest column by Irene Monroe: In "Hot-lanta" you stay "in the closet" as CNN's Don Lemon did - An excellent piece on why some black gay men stay in the closet.

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Stopping anti-gay propaganda before it takes root

It's no secret that organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council scour through newspapers and online media sites looking for current events which they will use to demonize either the lgbt community or the concept of marriage equality.

Look for the following news item to possibly be the newest moral panic:

A gender diversity lesson at a California elementary school that featured single-sex geckos and transgender clownfish has angered conservative critics, who question its appropriateness for in-class instruction.

Students in all grades at Oakland's Redwood Heights Elementary School got an introductory lesson on the topic on Monday. Fox News was allowed to sit in on the lessons, which included teachings to kindergartners and fourth-graders.

The lessons were presented by an outside anti-bullying educational group called Gender Spectrum, paid for with a $1,500 grant from the California Teachers Union.

Joel Baum, director of education and training for Gender Spectrum, taught the classes. In the kindergarten class he asked the 5- and 6-year-olds to identify if a toy was a "girl toy" or a "boy toy" or both. He also asked which students liked the color pink, prompting many to raise their hands, to which he responded that that boys can like pink, too.

I can just imagine the headlines of various religious right blogs and emails talking about "the homosexual agenda" or how "this will be mandatory thanks to gay marriage."


There are two things about this lesson plan which will probably be conveniently omitted from religious right propaganda (should they choose to exploit this incident):

1. The children who took part in this lesson were not required to.  According to the article, all parents were informed of the lesson plan beforehand and were able to opt their children out of it if they chose to do so. So this was case of parents still having control over what is being taught to their children.

2. These lessons have nothing to do with marriage equality but the issues of gender identity and bullying. Whether the religious right wants to adhere to the fact or not, the issues of gender identity are becoming more widely known and some parents are finding that they have to deal with this issue. What's so wrong with talking with talking about this issue with children in a reasonable manner? Children  aren't porcelain or glass. And they won't remain children forever. Teaching a child respect and understanding at an early age is hardly a bad idea.

But exploiting efforts by school to ensure a safe and knowledgeable environment in order to create fictional boogeymen is an abysmal idea.

Are you listening, National Organization for Marriage and Family Research Council?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NOM's methods of 'defending marriage' are unchristian

Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage claims that his organization wants a respectful discussion as to the merits of being against marriage equality.

However based on the actions of NOM - and the organizations it is partnering with in New York and Minnesota - one can't help but to question the veracity of Brown's statement.

So far:

  • NOM has put out a misleading commercial in New York touting a claim that the organization knows is discredited.
  • The organization has also blanketed the state with flyers designed to imply that gays want to use marriage equality to corrupt the innocence of children.
  • Brown himself, during a rally, made the erroneous claim that Massachusetts kindergartners are being taught that their parents are bigots if said parents favor opposite-sex marriage.

And these awful missives of inaccuracy and misdirection aren't confined solely to NOM. The organizations NOM is partnering with to fight marriage equality are also guilty of several dubious actions.

In Minnesota, the Minnesota Family Council spread inaccurate information via its site that gays engage in pedophilia, bestiality, and the consuming of urine and feces. It also cited the work of discredited physician Paul Cameron. Since this discovery became public, the Minnesota Family Council has scrubbed these references from its site, however, you can still view the information and save it from here.  To top it off, even though the items were removed, the head of the Minnesota Family Council, Tom Pritchard, actually defended the material:
Prichard defends the postings as getting “into the nature of homosexuality and homosexual behavior,” but says that won’t be the focus of his group’s efforts to pass the constitutional ban.
“The focus of this campaign is the nature and purpose of marriage — not a referendum of homosexuality per se, or its lifestyle activities and behaviors,” he says. “I would see that as a separate issue.”

And it gets more interesting in New York.

A group aiding NOM in that state, The Family Research Foundation, is encouraging supporters to write letters to the editor demonizing lgbts.  And the organization has the gall to provide prospective writers with several form letters, meaning that all they have to do is sign their name. You can view the letters here. One letter is below:

The letter implies that the lgbt orientation is as dangerous as cigarette smoking.  This theory was originally espoused by the discredited researcher Paul Cameron, the very man whose material the Minnesota Family Council scrubbed from its page.

Some folks may read this post and get frustrated.  They may say things like "whatever NOM and its allies are doing, it's working because they are winning" or "we are losing because we aren't fighting fire with fire."

But I disagree with both points. Sometimes exposing a lie to sunlight is the best thing you can do.  Whatever battles NOM have won are transitory at best and, when it's all said and done, will not be remembered when marriage equality becomes legal.

What will be remembered are the lies, the hypocrisy, the blatant inaccuracies committed in the name of God by NOM and its partners.

And hopefully those who follow our footsteps will take that behavior as a lesson of what not to do when claiming to work for morality.

Hat tip to Goodasyou.org

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NOM spotlighting phony attack on same-sex families

On it's blog, the National Organization for Marriage is spotlighting a column which features an anecdote supposedly spotlighting the "dangers of gay marriage."

But like so many other things the organization pushes, this anecdote pushes several lies.

Raymond Belair also serves as general counsel to Family First of Eastchester and the Children First Foundation of Eastchester. He writes (and mentions our NY "Consequences" Ad in the second paragraph):
... A further baseless claim of the homosexual lobby is that SSM poses no threat to natural marriage or the nuclear family. But a history of such legalization in other states belies that claim. There is a television spot running in New York that makes a valid point regarding consequences "for kids." It is entirely predictable that after SSM is approved that elementary-school students could be subjected to re-education about homosexual marriage being "normative"; this has happened after SSM passed in Massachusetts. A parent there objected to his 6-year-old's required attendance at programs favorably depicting homosexual marriage. The school board rebuffed him, asserting authority to teach "civic values" in conformity with the Massachusetts SSM law, and that it was good for children to be taught things their parents would never approve of.

The first lie is about NOM's consequences ad, where the organization makes the already debunked claim:

Massachusetts schools teach second graders that boys can marry other boys.

Lawsuit filed over anti-gay TN law and other Wednesday midday news briefs

Lawsuit To Be Filed Over Non-Discrimination Bill Reversal - Excellent! It was a dumb move for Tennessee to approve this mess.

#NY26: NOM $6,000 poorer, congressional equality caucus one vote richer
- NOM wastes $6,000. Music to my ears.

Transgender musician makes waves with voice, violin - An awesome story about a transgender woman who not only reaches for the stars but manages to grab a couple of them.

Obama Denounces 'DADT', Marriage Provisions in Defense Bill - Hopefully that junk won't get out of the Senate.

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NOM playing the astroturf game against marriage equality in NC

On its blog, the National Organization for Marriage is gloating over the Minnesota vote while at the same time claiming that it is spurring North Carolina citizens to speak out for so-called "traditional marriage:"

Victory in Minnesota is encouraging North Carolinans to call for their right to vote for marriage, in the op-ed pages of the Winston-Salem Journal:
Marriage serves as the basis for social organization; it is not a consequence of it. Marriage signifies a particular relationship among the many unions that individuals freely enter; it's the one between a man and a woman that has two obvious goals: mutual support and procreation of children.
No other type of relationship, by definition, can fulfill both goals without the direct or indirect involvement of a third party. To Christians, marriage remains the cornerstone of society, not some government response to the most recent group of discontented Americans.
Rather than wait to see what the Beltway elite decide, North Carolina should pass its own protection of marriage amendment to settle the gay marriage issue once and for all.
Numerous polls over the years consistently show that the majority of people in North Carolina want marriage defined as being between a man and a woman.

Conveniently NOM does not reveal who wrote this piece. The author is Nathan Tabor, who is chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party. And based on his past pieces,  it's safe to say that NOM's veiled description that Tabor was "inspired" to write his piece because of what happened in Minnesota is inaccurate.

In fact, it's safe to say that NOM's description is a downright lie.

Nathan Tabor is a conservative activist who has run for office several times in North Carolina. In addition, he  written several ugly anti-gay pieces over the years, including:

Charles Darwin disagrees with homosexuality - 2005

Another liberal fairy tale - 2006

In 2005, he started an ugly controversy when a piece he wrote, Homosexuals should pay more insurance, cited the work of the discredited Paul Cameron (who by the way, is cited by the Minnesota Family Council, NOM's partner against marriage equality in that state).

Last week, he was cited in an article about the marriage amendment in North Carolina saying the following:

"There is no separation of church and state. It's not in the Constitution. It's the liberal agenda to take God out of America."

For NOM to imply that Tabor was spurred to speak up against marriage equality because of the Minnesota vote (as if he was an ordinary citizen caught up in the moment) is totally untrue.

Most likely, Tabor and NOM are working in conjunction to get pieces in the North Carolina press to speak against marriage equality.

Tabor's piece reads like a speech from NOM leader Maggie Gallagher. He is even so tacky as to include NOM's main talking point in his column:

Gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose . . . however they don't have the right to redefine marriage.

My question is when does the convenient column labeling North Carolina lgbts as intolerant bullies come? No doubt we will probably see more of this in North Carolina and Minnesota, i.e. this bizarre degree of astroturfing where those working with NOM write letters to the editors and columns using the organization's inaccurate talking points against marriage equality while NOM implies on its blog that they are "ordinary citizen spurred on to defend marriage."

It's a nasty game that NOM is playing. And unfortunately same-sex couples and their children may end up losing this game.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hate group bragging about work to stop marriage equality

Brian Camenker
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Massachusetts group Mass Resistance is an anti-gay hate group for the following reasons:

MassResistance, “the leading pro-family grassroots activist group in Massachusetts,” began life in 1995 as the Parents’ Rights Coalition, became the Article 8 Alliance in 2003, and took on its current name in 2006. Its leader, Brian Camenker, is a programmer who was an official of the Article 8 Alliance and also headed the Newton, Mass., chapter of the National Taxpayers’ Association.

As president of yet another group, the Interfaith Coalition of Massachusetts, Camenker spearheaded the drafting of a bill that passed in 1996 and required that parents be notified of any sex education in their children’s schools. That same year, Camenker claimed that suicide prevention programs aimed at gay youth actually were “put together by homosexual activists to normalize homosexuality.” Later, MassResistance charged that groups like the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which support school anti-bullying programs, actually want to lure children into homosexuality and, very possibly, sadomasochism. At a 2006 religious right gathering in Washington, D.C., Camenker insisted that gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals. "One bill in Massachusetts takes away all the penalties for bestiality," he claimed. "This is where this [homosexual] agenda is going." A little later, he added, "They [gays and lesbians] are pushing perversion on our kids."

In 2006-2007, Mass-Resistance pushed for an amendment of the 1996 statute that would have required that parents be notified of any discussion of gay or lesbian issues in the schools. The group proposed language that lumped sexual orientation (which includes heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality) in with criminal behaviors like bestiality and polygamy. During legislative testimony supporting the amendment, Camenker falsely claimed that no homosexuals died in the Holocaust and that the pink triangle the Nazis forced imprisoned gays to wear actually signified Catholic priests. The amendment did not pass.

Camenker, who has long focused on the purported “homosexual agenda” in the schools and frequently claimed gays are dangerous to kids, has repeatedly cited discredited claims from organizations like the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality that link homosexuality and pedophilia. 

Allow me include that additionally, Camenker and a local parent David Parker orchestrated a two-year long moral panic by first falsely claiming that Parker was arrested for merely wanting his son to be opted out of classroom discussions of homosexuality and then claiming that his son was physically assaulted by the children of lgbt household for his father's stance.

In 2008, another person affiliated with the organization, Michael Olivio, was arrested after he was caught taking pictures of children at a local middle school school. He and Camenker claimed that he meant to take pictures of students at a high school because the state Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgendered Youth had held a meeting there (taking pictures of gay students is another sideline of Mass Resistance).

And last but not least, it was Mass Resistance behind repeated smears of Obama appointee Kevin Jennings, including the phony "fistgate" scandal.

One would think that an organization such as this wouldn't be consulted by those supposedly trying to save traditional marriage. However, if Camenker is accurate, Mass Resistance is being consulted.

RHODE ISLAND (1): Last week the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on a terrible Domestic Partnership bill. MassResistance was at the Rhode Island State House to testify. We also worked with Rhode Island activists. We will have a full report, plus video, of that. The committee will be voting on it this week.

RHODE ISLAND (2): Yesterday the House Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on their "transgender rights" bill. MassResistance has supplied activists with material for their testimony.
NEW YORK: This week the New York Senate is poised to vote on a "gay marriage" bill. Horribly, key Republican legislators have been caving in on this right and left. Even wealthy Republican donors, such as the publisher of the "conservative" Manhattan Institute, have jumped ship and are funding the "gay marriage" push.  Over the past week MassResistance has been working with Orthodox Rabbis (both in New York and as far away as Israel) on strategy and other help to mobilize people in key districts. (More may be announced soon.)
MINNESOTA: On the good news front, the Republican-controlled Minnesota House of Representatives is poised to vote this week on a state-wide referendum for an anti-gay marriage Constitutional Amendment. It has already passed the Minnesota Senate.  MassResistance got a call this past week from a key activist who wants us to get involved right away.

ILLINOIS: Pro-family citizens from across Illinois, led by Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth, are gearing up for a state-wide non-binding referendum on state's recently passed Domestic Partner law. Brian Camenker of MassResistance recently led part of a conference call session of key statewide activists, and may come and do a pro-marriage tour across the state.

Fascinating. If marriage is such a holy and sacred sacrament, why does one need the help of devils to defend it?

To the folks using the "services" of Mass Resistance, God does not like ugly, even if it's done in his name. You may gain momentary victories by allowing this group to aid you, but you have already lost the war over integrity and values.

And soon, you will lose the war over marriage equality.

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Tennessee declares war on lgbt equality and other Tuesday midday news briefs

TN Governor signs anti-gay/trans hate bill, repeals civil rights protections, bans further civil rights laws in TN cities - We know that this is an opening salvo to some bull which will probably move itself into other states. Rather than wring our hands and call down thunder on those who pushed this law and our "allies," let's fight this madness. I still say it violates the Supreme Court ruling of Romer vs. Evans. Let's take this madness to court!

Hoft Revives Anti-Gay Smears On Jennings After News He Is Leaving Education Dept. - Poor Jim Hoft. He couldn't tell a lie successful enough to get Jennings fired so now he is making himself look like a fool.

Audio: Senior lobbyist for NY's anti-equality group: Bible is a weapon, churches are recruiting stations, Satan is the enemy - Is that what NOM is going to mean by a "respectful conversation?"

After Admitting Fight Over Marriage Equality Had Been Lost, Daly Pens Op-Ed Against Marriage Equality - I love it when those in the religious right try to backtrack from their own words.

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Did NOM plant the seeds for the eventual success of marriage equality?

It would seem that - for now - the National Organization for Marriage may have overreached in its push for a 2012 vote for gay marriage in Minnesota. Two things have happened which demonstrates may have unleashed a froth of ill will that not even flyers and commercials can quell.

According to the Minnesota Independent:

Sen. Scott Dibble told Minnesota Public Radio that 100,000 emails sent to legislators by gay marriage supporters were clogging the servers and that the Senate IT department was set to delete them Monday morning. The emails, sent through the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT rights group, chided Republicans and a handful of DFLers who voted Saturday night to put a constitutional ban on gay marriage on the ballot in 2012. Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman said the emails were being help in a spam filter and that his office was workign to get them back into the system.

“Hundreds of thousands of emails have come in the aftermath, so many so that the Republican caucus is deleting them before their members even get to see them,” Dibble told MPR.

Sen. Warren Limmer, the chief author of the anti-gay marriage amendment, said, “Not true. Not true. We aren’t wiping off comments of our constituents. That’s just simply not true.”

Sen. Dibble answered back, “That absolutely is true, and that’s exactly what the secretary of the Senate has told us.”

Secretary of the Senate Cal Ludeman tells the Minnesota Independent that the sheer volume of email coming into the system had caused it to crash on Sunday. By early Monday morning 230,000 emails had flooded in, he said, adding that he ordered the IT department to send a large number to a spam filter.

Polls have shown that the majority of people in Minnesota don't want this vote. But NOM pushed it  and the Minnesota legislature boggarted it through anyway via a nightly session in order to deflect attention. I think that some people resent that.

And then came something highly unprecedented. President Obama weighed in on the potential vote:

“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples or to take such rights away. While he believes this is an issue best addressed by the states, he also believes that committed gay couples should have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.”

According to The Washington Blade:

The statement doesn’t explicitly mention the proposed constitutional amendment in Minnesota, but states that the president “has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts” that would restrict rights for gay couples.

Additionally, the statement reaffirms Obama’s lack of support for same-sex marriage rights by saying the issue is “best addressed by the states.” Obama has said he’s “wrestling” with the marriage issue, but has yet to make an endorsement for marriage equality.

Don't be fooled, folks. We know how things work in Washington in terms of deliberately moving to embrace a position. I trust that this will not be the last time President Obama comments on the subject of marriage equality. My guess is that NOM's behavior will conveniently cause Obama to embrace the cause.

The question seems to be is it safe to assume that by going into a state not wishing to vote on gay marriage and pushing the legislature to make this vote a 2012 reality, has NOM overestimated its own power and set into place a chain of events that will see the end of its own relevance and the arguments against marriage equality?

Time will tell.

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Pathetic physician continues to stigmatize gay men for cancer risk

The American Family Association's phony news service, One News Now, recently had what can be called as a do-over.

A do-over is a recasting of a news story and it's apparently done in this case when the original news story is seen as sloppy.

Last week, One News Now published a crappy piece,  'Gay' lifestyle = higher cancer rates , which distorted a recent study which talk about the possible prevalence of cancer in gay men.

Not only did the article downplay the fact that the study's author blamed homophobic stigma for what she found, but it also - via one source, a "physician" by the name of Andre Van Mol - played up an out-of-date book (The Gay Report) as proof that the homosexual orientation is indicative of diseases, such as cancer.

It was piss poor article and I think that One News Now was aware of this fact, because it created a new article on the same subject:

According to a recent report, homosexual men are twice as likely to get cancer than heterosexual men -- findings that one California-based doctor says show the risks of alternate lifestyles.

Results published in the journal Cancer show that the high number of homosexual men affected by cancer may be linked to the high risk of anal cancer and HIV infection. Also, lesbian and bisexual women who have survived cancer were less healthy than heterosexual women who also survived the disease.

Dr. Andre Van Mol, a board-certified family physician of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, decides the report affirms the fact that alternate lifestyles are dangerous. He notes that the cancers are not only AIDS-related, although homosexual men have a higher risk in getting HIV.

"In 2010 at a national conference, the Centers for Disease Control reported that men having sex with men had 44-times the rate of AIDS diagnosis as did heterosexual men, and 40 times...worse than women," Van Mol reports. "So...we're talking an extraordinary risk here."

And here is where One News Now and Van Mol commits the same error as in the first article - i.e. the sin of omission. According to a press release about that 2010 conference:

Research shows that a range of complex factors contribute to the high rates of HIV and syphilis among gay and bisexual men. These factors include high prevalence of HIV and other STDs among MSM, which increases the risk of disease exposure, and limited access to prevention services. Other factors are complacency about HIV risk, particularly among young gay and bisexual men; difficulty of consistently maintaining safe behaviors with every sexual encounter over the course of a lifetime; and lack of awareness of syphilis symptoms and how it can be transmitted (e.g., oral sex). Additionally, factors such as homophobia and stigma can prevent MSM from seeking prevention, testing, and treatment services.

So if One News Now and Van Mol tried to somehow repair the errors from the first article, both failed miserably.  And the lack of ethics and integrity in both parties are still on full display.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

NOM pledges to give 'resources' in Minnesota anti-gay marriage vote

The one thing I tell folks tracking the National Organization for Marriage is to not allow this organization's words to get under their skin, such as the following statement gloating about recent happenings in Minnesota via NOM President Brian Brown:

“We commend the bi-partisan majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives that voted Saturday night to put an amendment on the ballot preserving marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The House joins a bi-partisan majority in the state Senate, and the amendment will now go before voters in November 2012. NOM looks forward to supporting the campaign and lending our expertise and resources to those of allies in the state. We will have a thorough, respectful, discussion with the voters of Minnesota on all the reasons why the definition of marriage should be preserved as the union of a man and a woman, and to explain the risks to Minnesotans if they allow an activist judge or liberal legislators to redefine marriage in the future without public approval.

The key is to read these statements and pay attention to what they are actually saying.

Of course we know that when NOM talks about "lending its expertise and resources," this most likely means blanketing the state with lying flyers, brochures, and commercials falsely accusing the lgbt community of "recruiting children" through gay marriage. Meanwhile NOM talking heads like Maggie Gallagher will go on local talk shows and claim sweetness and light while she espouses that  NOM  "only wants to protect marriage."

All while all of this is happening, "ordinary citizens" on their own volition (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) will point out erroneous incidents in which they claim that Minnesota's lgbt community are acting like bullies via columns, letters, to the editors, and statements which NOM will publish on its blog (making sure to edit out statements which will call attention to the falsity of these charges.)

Of course his statement, Brown omitted NOM's partner in this venture, the Minnesota Family Council.

So I guess that means we won't be hearing any disavowment from NOM regarding the Minnesota Family Council's hateful belief that gays engage in bestiality and pedophilia when we are not consuming urine and feces.

So much for Brown's claim of having a respectful discussion.

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