Thursday, June 09, 2011

NOM - anti-gay marriage amendments keep lgbt teens safe

Oh Brian Brown, you make it so easy.

Sometimes I enjoy reading the posts from the National Organization for Marriage's president Brian Brown. My fellow lgbts and our allies tend to get angry at his basic lies (i.e portraying the entire lgbt community and those who support marriage equality as bullies while conveniently ignoring the how his group stoops to demonizing lgbts) and the "ha, ha, ha, we are protecting marriage and the gays are losing" tone his posts tend to take.

I choose not to fall for the subterfuge and mind games because that's all it is. Brown says what he says because he needs an excuse to raise funds (or rather pretend to raise funds. We all have an idea where NOM's money really comes from).

I would rather focus on the cluelessness of his words. They do more than enough to betray the absolute emptiness of Brown's position and those who believe as he does.

Last week he made a complete ass of himself and NOM by pushing a lie that students in schools were forced to learn about gender identity in schools without their parents' permission even though a video NOM put on its blog and a news story the organization linked to showed otherwise.

The question this week is can Brown top his nonsense from last week? Why of course he can:

The CDC released a report showing that teenagers who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender engage in much, much higher rates of behavior suggesting social, emotional, or psychological distress, including smoking cigarettes, binge drinking, and attempting suicide.

The media and many experts were quick to say social stigma is the main culprit. Surely it plays a role.

But buried in the same report are data from two different states, Wisconsin and Massachusetts. One has had gay marriage since 2003, and the other has had a marriage amendment since 2006.

Which do you suppose is a safer place for LGBT teens?

The answer: Wisconsin by a mile. For example, about 25 percent of Massachusetts teens who self-identify as "gay" said they had missed schools because they felt unsafe, compared to 14 percent of Wisconsin teens. More than half (50.5 percent) of Massachusetts gay teens said they felt "sad or hopeless" compared to 29 percent of Wisconsin teens. Thirty-three percent of Massachusetts gay teens attempted suicide, compared to less than 20 percent of Wisconsin teens. Massachusetts gay teens were about twice as likely as Wisconsin gay teens to commit a suicide attempt serious enough to require medical care (15 percent to 8 percent). (By contrast, heterosexual teens in both states were about equally likely to have committed a suicide attempt that required medical care: around 2 percent.)

It's hard to be a gay teen, but if you are going to be one, it's much better to live in Wisconsin, a state which passed a marriage amendment by 60 percent, than Massachusetts, a state which has gay marriage.

First of all, I want to give Brown a little credit. Usually when religious right figures cite studies regarding homophobia and how it contributes to negative behavior amongst lgbts - particularly lgbt teens - they blame the negative behavior on the lgbt orientation, making sure to omit the part about how the homophobia plays a significant role (I'm talking to you, Family Research Council.)

At least Brown partly admits that homophobia does play a part in negative behaviors amongst lgbt teens. However he is inaccurate to say that the "media" is pushing this belief. He is correct in saying that "experts" are also pushing this belief.

But he omits the fact that the "experts" in question are in fact the authors of the study  - the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):

This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people. Any effort to promote adolescent health and safety must take into account the additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination, and victimization," said Howell Wechsler, Ed.D, M.P.H, director of CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH). "We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks."

Brown's attempt to paint the CDC study as somehow proof that anti-marriage equality amendments actually keep lgbt teens from negative behaviors is just pitiful.  But it does leave me wanting to see a genuine study on how these anti-marriage amendment campaigns affect our youth.

My guess is that seeing people march and cheer someone who say that lgbts are worthy of death, or seeing commercials falsely claiming that lgbts want to "force" children to learn about "gay intimacy,"  or even reading flyers claiming that lgbts want "steal" the "innocence" of children wouldn't have a positive effect on lgbt youth.

And I haven't mentioned the part about bestiality and the consuming of urine and feces.

Yet all of these things happen when NOM comes to town with their sideshow to "defend traditional marriage."  And Brown has the temerity to claim that the end result of this madness actually safeguards lgbt teens?
It's nonsense that I really don't think that Brown himself believes.

Don't fall for the mind games, folks. People like Brown who lie with such extremity are their own worst enemies. They always are and they always will be.

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Anonymous said...

The problem is he's cherry picking two states, Massachussets and Wisconsin. (After all, with states banning SSM he has 30 to choose from.) If you were to look at ALL states that have gay marriage and compare that with ALL states that constitutionally ban gay marriage, the answers would be the opposite. That would be representative.

Fred said...

Furthermore, Wisconsin allows same-sex domestic partnerships! So he's contrasting two varieties of apples, instead of apples to oranges. The arguments that same-sex marriage undermines heterosexual marriage have always been absurd, but EVEN IF we accept those, are we to believe that banning gay marriage while allowing gay domestic partnership is a distinction with a difference? Is Brown saying that Wisconsin is the exemplar, and that therefore every state should ban same-sex marriage but allow domestic partnerships? NOM's arguments are so convoluted they end up undermining themselves.

Jarred said...

Alvin, I hope you don't mind some shameless self-promotion on my part, but I decided to do my own blog post on Brown's screed. Of note to your readers is the fact that Brown played an obvious shell game with the statistics. (He compared "self-identified as gay" students in Massachusetts to students "who had sexual contact and only sexual contact with members of the same sex" in Wisconsin. When you compare the latter against the students "who had sexual contact and only sexual contact with members of the same sex" in Massachusetts, the figures for the two states were much closer. No data on students in Wisconsin who self-identify as gay were available, so the higher Massachusetts values that are based on self-identification cannot be used in a comparison against Wisconsin.

Not that it stopped Brian Brown, mind you.