Saturday, August 13, 2011

The dangers of not challenging false anti-gay testimony are numerous

This is the last of  a series of posts highlighting the need for Congress to scrutinize misleading religious right testimony during its hearings. The first post today showed of Maggie Gallagher gave misleading testimony  during an earlier DOMA hearing this year. The second post showed how Tony Perkins gave misleading testimony during a Congressional hearing on ENDA in 2009. Now this post demonstrates just how dangerous it is to allow testimony like this to go unchallenged.

To put it simply, via ThinkProgress, when lies about the lgbtq community go unchallenged during Congressional hearings, you will find Congressional leaders repeating these lies as reasons to vote against gay equality.

The following words are during a 1996 debate on DOMA. While you view this footage, ask yourself just how much of it have you heard coming from the mouths of Tony Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and the rest of that bunch:

Sign the petition to keep injustices like this from happening.

Bookmark and Share

Family Research Council head gave misleading testimony on ENDA in 2009

This post is Part 2 in a series highlighting the need for Congress to scrutinize misleading religious right testimony during its hearings. This repost has to do with 2009 testimony which Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins gave in front of Congress to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Just like Maggie Gallagher's testimony earlier this year (which was highlighted in today's earlier post), Perkins's testimony was misleading. And the two unfortunate things about it were that he was not called out for his errors and in 2010, he was allowed to give testimony opposing the confirmation of now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan.

October 1, 2009 

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 harassed 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 say:

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."

Maggie Gallagher gave misleading testimony during April 15 DOMA hearing

Editor's note - As you all know, I have begun a petition asking Congress to scrutinize and call out misleading testimony given by religious right figures during its hearings. Part of the reason for this petition is the blowback Sen. Al Franken received when he called out Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery for his misleading testimony during a recent hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Another reason is to highlight the times in which religious right figures were able to get away with misleading testimony. Today, I will be reposting various pieces highlighting those incidents. This is the first and it took place at an earlier DOMA hearing in April of this year. Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage gave the same type of misleading testimony which Tom Minnery was called out for. The only difference is that no Congressional leader called her out. The site Equality Matters did call her out, but that was after the hearing was over.

April 25, 2011

According to Equality Matters, the witnesses speaking for DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) during the April 15 Congressional hearing gave incorrect testimony on several occasions. I invite everyone to take a look at the section, but the one which stands out for me is a statement made by the National Organization for Marriage's Maggie Gallagher.

She claimed that social science proves that the best place to raise children are in homes with biological, married parents as opposed to same-sex households:


GALLAGHER: From what we know from the social science evidence, marriage protects children to the extent that it increases the likelihood they are born to and raised by their own mother and father in a low-conflict, enduring relationship. We know this because, frankly, children do not do better under remarried parents than they do with solo mothers on average, which means that it is not simply a set of legal benefits that we can transform. It is the extent and way to which marriage as a legal and public institution helps to protect a particular kind of family that it helps to protect children or fails to protect children.

However, according to Equality Matters, in her written testimony, Gallagher cited a study on heterosexual single parents:

We know this from the social science evidence showing that children do no better, on average, in remarried families than they do living with single mothers. 1 Marriage protects children to the extent that it helps increase the likelihood that children will be raised by their mother and father.
1 See Sara McLanahan & Gary Sandefur, Growing Up With a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps (Harvard U. Press 1994) (“In general, compared with children living with both their parents, young people from disrupted families are more likely to drop out of high school, and young women from one-parent families are more likely to become teen mothers, irrespective of the conditions under which they began to live with single mothers and irrespective of whether their mothers remarry or experience subsequent disruptions.”). [Statement of Maggie Gallagher, Hearing on “Defending Marriage,” 4/15/11]

Equality Matters went on to use the words of Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology and Professor of Gender and Sexuality at New York University to call out Gallagher and others on the right who inaccurately use studies on the heterosexual family dynamic to demonize same-sex parenting, and by proxy, marriage equality:

According to the child protection discourse that Professor Wardle, Maggie Gallagher, and others deploy, social science research demonstrates that legalizing same-sex marriage poses dangers to children and families… In particular, claims that research establishes the superiority of the married heterosexual-couple family and that children need a mother and a father conflate and confuse research findings on four distinct variables - the sexual orientation, gender, number, and the marital status of parents… Unfortunately, opponents of same-sex marriage, like Maggie Gallagher and Professor Wardle, and even some advocates, draw selectively, indiscriminately, and inappropriately from research findings about all four variables to address questions the studies were not designed to, and are not able, to illuminate.
Opponents of same-sex marriage draw on a third body of literature in which researchers have achieved an unusual degree of consensus. Most family researchers agree that, all other things being equal (which, of course, is almost never the case), two parents are better than one. Research indicates that children raised in single-parent families are at greater risk of various negative outcomes (e.g., dropping out of school, delinquency, unwed teen pregnancy, substance abuse, etc.) than children raised in comparable two-parent families. All of this research, however, as Maggie Gallagher acknowledged, has been conducted on heterosexual-parent families. Moreover, this research generally compares children in married-couple and single-parent families, thereby confounding the effects of the number and the legal status of parents. None of the research cited to demonstrate the importance of fathers (or mothers) examines the adjustment of children raised by same-sex couples. Moreover, this research does not indicate that it is the gender or the sexual orientation of the absent parent that is responsible for the different outcomes of children raised in single versus two-parent families. Rather, most researchers conclude that the number and economic resources of parents as well as the disruptive effects that parental desertion or divorce can inflict on children's lives account for these differential risks. N12 [University School of Quinnipiac Law Review, via Lexis, emphasis added, 2004]

Gallagher has done this sort of thing before. In in January of last year, she distorted a study on child abuse to make the case that children in married biological homes do better to protect children from abuse than children in same-sex households.

The distortion comes because the study in question - the one she cited - didn't even look at children in same-sex households. We know this because Gallagher even admitted at the time that same-sex households wasn't a category in the study:

All the other family structures studied (which does not include same-sex parent families probably because these are such a small part of the population), but does include solo parents, other married parents (remarried primarily), single parents living with a partner, cohabiting parents, and no parents.

Please bear in mind that at that same April 15 Congressional hearing,  Gallagher said it was unfortunate that people misinterpret things she says as a condemnation of "gay people" and "their parenting skills."

If Gallagher wants people to not think that she is condemning "gay people" and "their parenting skills," then maybe she should stop being so deceptive in her testimony.

Sign the petition to keep Gallagher and company from getting away with deceptions like this.

Bookmark and Share