Monday, December 27, 2010

Six ways the religious right groups lie about the gay community

This a repost which has been updated. We know that religious right groups peddle distortions designed to demonize the lgbt community.

However we really should do more than simply declare them bigots. The lgbt community needs to follow the advice of high school math teachers and "show our work" in proving what needs to be known about these so-called pro-family groups, i.e. that they lie intentionally to create a phony picture of the lgbt community. So I have compiled a pattern of religious right deception which can be broken down to six techniques:

1. Using nonrepresentative or out-of-date studies to make generalizations, or distorting legitimate studies to give misleading conclusions

Example 1 - Religious right talking point: According to the book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with 500 or more partners, with 28 percent having 1,000 or more sexual partners. Therefore gays have no concept of mongamy and certainly can't be trusted to raise children.

Truth - Homosexualities was a book written in 1978 that only looked a certain portion of the lgbt population (gay men in the city of San Francisco). It also did not look at same-sex households. In addition, the authors of Homosexualities (Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg) said that their book should not be used to generalize about all gays in general:

“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.”

Example 2 - Religious right talking point: Same sex marriage and gay adoption are bad ideas because research shows that the best places to raise children are in homes with a mother and a father.

The truth - The research only looked at heterosexual two-parent households as opposed to single parent heterosexual households. Same-sex households were never included.

Point of fact - The following researchers, physicians, and Ph.D.s have complained about how the anti-gay industry has misused their work:
A. Nicholas Groth,

the six researchers of a Canadian study (Robert S. Hogg, Stefan A. Strathdee, Kevin J.P. Craib, Michael V. Shaughnessy, Julio Montaner, and Martin T. Schehter),

Dr. Robert Garofalo (see Gays as Diseased),\

Lisa Waldner,

Dr. Kyle Pruett,

Dr. Elizabeth Saewyc,
Carol Gilligan,

Dr. Robert Spitzer,

Dr. Francis Collins,

Gary Remafedi,

Professor Michael King,

Professor Lisa Diamond,

Judith Stacey,

Angela Phillips,

the authors of the book Unequal Opportunity: Health Disparities Affecting Gay and Bisexual Men in the United States (Professors Richard J. Wolitski, Ron Stall, and Ronald O. Valdiserri),
Theo Sandfort, and

John Horgan.

2. Repetition - Despite the fact that several physicians and researchers complain about the distortion of their work, corrections are usually not made. In fact, you can still find the work of the six Canadian researchers, Judith Stacey, A. Nicholas Groth, and Robert Garofalo, as well as many others being distorted on various religious right webpages.

3. Conspiracy Theory - Claiming that gays and lesbians are consistently plotting to "erode traditional values"

Example - “The agenda of homosexual activists is basically to change America from what they perceive as looking down on homosexual behavior, to the affirmation of and societal acceptance of homosexual behavior. It is an agenda that they basically set in the late 1980s, in a book called After the Ball, where they laid out a six-point plan for how they could transform the beliefs of ordinary Americans with regard to homosexual behavior—in a decade-long time frame." - Craig Osten, Q&A: The Homosexual Agenda, Focus on the Family, July 25, 2003

4. Dire Consequences - Claiming that a pro-gay law or ordinance will lead to negative consequences without proof that the consequences will take place.

Example 1 - “Imagine, if you will, a 280 lb linebacker who likes to wear a dress and high heels and lipstick, you know comes to church wanting a job at the front desk as a receptionist and they turn him away because they don’t feel that that represents their values or the image that they’re trying to hold at that church, under ENDA they could be held accountable for discrimination against that individual.” - Matt Barber, Concerned Women for America, 2007

Example 2 - “H.R. 254 elevates one group of Americans above others, creating a special class of victims. All things being equal, it means that if a 5-foot-2-inch grandmother is violently attacked on the street, she is less worthy of justice than the 6-foot-4-inch homosexual man who is attacked by the same assailant.” - Matt Barber, Concerned Women for America, 2007

5. Phony Experts - Creating their own "experts" on the lgbt community. One such "expert" is Linda Harvey of Mission America. According to her bio, she is a former ad executive who became a born again Christian. Another phony expert is Glenn T. Stanton of Focus on the Family. He is considered an "expert" on the subject of homosexuality but has a master’s degree in interdisciplinary humanities with an emphasis in philosophy, history and religion. And this also includes organizations. In a recent appearance on the news program Hardball, Family Research Council head Tony Perkins cited the  "work" of the American College of Pediatricians as proof that "homosexuality poses a danger to children." However Perkins neglected to mention that the American College of Pediatricians is not a legitimate group but a sham organization laundering religious right distortions as scientific fact.

6. Dehumanizing Semantics - Consistently using language (i.e. demonstrative verbs and adjectives) in their talking points, sound bites, and press releases to deliberately make gays and lesbians seem like impersonal, threatening outsiders. These verbs and adjectives include such phrases as:

  • promoting homosexuality
  • marketing homosexuality
  • endorsing homosexuality
  • teaching homosexuality
  • homosexual activists
  • radical gay agenda
  • forcing their agenda on us
  • pro-homosexual
  • sodomy advocates
  • sodomy lobby
  • sexual anarchists
  • special rights
  • homosexual behavior
  • legitimizing their lifestyle
  • lifestyle
  • deadly lifestyle
  • redefining marriage
  • counterfeit marriage
  • aggressive minority of sexual deviants
  • homosexual indoctrination
  • ramming their agenda down our throats
  • gay militants
  • they are after our children
  • homosexuals can’t reproduce so they have to recruit
  • normalizing homosexuality
  • marketing their lifestyle to children
  • indoctrinating children

If the lgbt community is going to get any headway with combating religious right groups, the labeling of these groups as bigots without any discussion or knowledge of their techniques of deception  must stop. The lgbt community must roll up its collective sleeves and do the hard work not just to educate those in the mainstream, but also itself.

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DADT editorial cartoons in bad taste and other Monday midday news briefs

Cagle syndicates tasteless, offensive ‘Don’t Ask’ cartoons following historic repeal signing - Satire is one thing. But these cartoon are downright rude. They make light of the struggles and sacrifices of lgbt soliders.

Familiar Pattern in Newark Park Slay - A tragedy crying for answers.

Vets Group Blasts 'Social Deviant' Farah's Anti-Gay Column - A homophobic column gets its just desserts.

Gay caregivers 'seriously under-researched' - Well duh!

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Religious right scared that California youth will learn about gays in history

One thing is sure about religious right groups. Just mention the word "gay" in any form regarding the schools and watch them bloviate about how children are going to be "indoctrinated into the homosexual lifestyle." Case in point:

A California senator is proposing a bill that would radically promote the lesbian, "gay," bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in schools and wouldn't allow parents to take their children out of discussions concerning the alternate lifestyles.

State Senator Mark Leno (D) has introduced a measure that would require public school textbooks to be re-written to contain information about the LGBT movement. Under the FAIR (Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful) Education Act, textbooks must highlight key LGBT figures who contributed to the history of the United States and include details about the homosexual movement.

But Penny Harrington, Concerned Women of America's (CWA) legislative director of California, says the bill mandates certain instruction in social sciences and removes safeguards from communities.

"This bill will prompt open discussion in classrooms of all ages about sexual practices, and these are conversations that most parents are going to consider inappropriate," she notes.

In other words, to merely mention the contributions of lgbts in history automatically means that children will be talking about sexual intercourse and parental guidance is needed.

Of course such notions are ridiculous. Talking about gay figures throughout history doesn't necessarily mean that there will be discussions about sexual intercourse, just like a child from a same sex household reading an essay about a family trip doesn't mean that there will be talk about sexual intercourse.

But the religious right will emphasize this false notion in a cynical attempt to appeal to ignorance and fear. Fox News has already talked about this issue of gay history and has called it as "propaganda" and "blackmail."

There is a practical reason why talking about lgbts in history is important to the upbringing of lgbt children. According to Media Matters:

The California Safe Schools Coalition surveyed California students and school administrators in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to determine whether curriculum that includes attention to LGBT people "promote[s] safer school climates." According to their research, "students who report learning about LGBT issues in school... report fewer mean rumors or lies spread about them, fewer reports of being made fun of because of their looks or the way they talk, and less LGBT bullying at school." The California Safe Schools Coalition also concluded that not only did more LGBT students feel safer at schools with LGBT issues in the curriculum, but "[m]ore straight students report feeling safe if they learned about LGBT issues." The report concluded:

Finding 1: Individual students feel safer at school when LGBT issues are included in the curriculum; this is true for LGBT students and for their straight peers.


Finding 2: School climates are safer when LGBT issues are part of the curriculum.


Finding 3: Many California school districts already include LGBT issues in the curriculum and many more are interested in doing so. [California Safe Schools Coalition, Safe Schools "LGBT Issues in the Curriculum Promotes School Safety", 2006]

In layman's terms, it's like this - when lgbt children realize that the gay community has made positive influences throughout history, they are more likely to have more self-esteem about themselves. It's pretty much the same reason why there is a Black History Month and a Women's History Month.

Personally I don't see anything wrong with it. We are a people with a rich history and have played a huge role in society which have nothing to do with bathroom encounters or sticky fumblings in open fields in the dead of night. Among our number are such historical giants as Alexander the Great, James Baldwin, Gertrude Stein, Socrates, Michelangelo, Herman Melville,  and Bayard Rustin. It's time America stop thinking that being an lgbt is an issue solely about sexual intercourse.

Senator Leno put it best:

“Most textbooks don’t include any historical information about the LGBT movement, which has great significance to both California and U.S. history,” said Senator Leno. “Our collective silence on this issue perpetuates negative stereotypes of LGBT people and leads to increased bullying of young people.” He added, “We can’t simultaneously tell youth that it’s OK to be yourself and live an honest, open life when we aren’t even teaching students about historical LGBT figures or the LGBT equal rights movement.”

Of course you can't tell that to members of the religious right. To push the fact that there is more to being an lgbt than fevered sexual encounters leading to despair, death, and disease puts a huge chink in their argument regarding the supposed "negative effects" of homosexuality.

In their world, lgbts are not people, but sideshow freaks in cages to be pitied and pointed at. Granted, the world of the religious right in no way resembles the real world, but don't count on that little detail to stop them from trying to defeat this needed bill.

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