Friday, February 18, 2011

Family Research Council's 'detailed response' to SPLC's charges leave much to be desired

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council
Supposedly, the Family Research Council has finally given a "detailed response" to the Southern Poverty Law Center's charges that it uses distortive tactics to demonize the lgbt community.

However, the group did not direct the answer to me or the SPLC, but allegedly to a reader of this blog. This is what the person wrote me:

I asked them for a detailed response, and the reply I received was as follows:

Dear C,

Thank you for contacting Family Research Council.

Please refer to Tony Perkins's op-ed, "Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality" at for an explanation of our motives behind opposing homosexuality.


Your Friends at the Family Research Council

If this is accurate, then the Family Research Council has a very warped idea of a "detailed response."

The link is to a piece written by FRC head Tony Perkins entitled Christian compassion requires the truth about harms of homosexuality. It was published in October of last year in The Washington Post, causing a lot of consternation because it was published on National Coming Out Day AND it contained many distortions.

In the piece, Perkins complained that "homosexual activists" were "exploiting" the recent suicides of lgbt teens. He tried to make the case that homophobia didn't lead to these suicides but that homosexuality itself was a "dangerous lifestyle:"

There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression. However, there is no empirical evidence to link this with society's general disapproval of homosexual conduct. In fact, evidence from the Netherlands would seem to suggest the opposite, because even in that most "gay-friendly" country on earth, research has shown homosexuals to have much higher mental health problems.

However, Media Matters for America called him out for distortions:

Perkins suggests that these tragedies are not caused by the homophobic attacks these individuals were subjected to, but rather because "homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression," and, according to Perkins, there's no "evidence to link this with society's general disapproval of homosexual conduct." Unfortunately for Perkins, the article he links to says no such thing.
Perkins links to a February 2002 American Psychologist article, which reported on the "results of several breakthrough studies are offering new insights on gay men, lesbians and bisexuals." While Perkins is right, "Several studies suggest that gay men, lesbians and bisexuals appear to have higher rates of some mental disorders compared with heterosexuals," he's totally wrong that these rates have nothing to do with discrimination. In fact, the article immediately goes on to report that "[d]iscrimination may help fuel these higher rates." The article reported: "In a study that examines possible root causes of mental disorders in LGB people, [Susan] Cochran [PhD] and psychologist Vickie M. Mays, PhD, of the University of California, Los Angeles, explored whether ongoing discrimination fuels anxiety, depression and other stress-related mental health problems among LGB people. The authors found strong evidence of a relationship between the two." Several other studies back up this finding.

Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin pointed out this error in Perkins's piece regarding his "evidence" from the Netherlands:

While the study’s authors notes that the Netherlands is generally more tolerant, it doesn’t mean that LGBT people there are free from anti-gay bias and stress. After all, “more tolerant” is not the same as tolerant. And as for the study’s findings, the authors offered this explanation:
The effects of social factors on the mental health status of homosexual men and women have been well documented in studies, which found a relationship between experiences of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination and mental health status. Furthermore, controlling for psychological predictors of present distress seems to eliminate differences in mental health status between heterosexual and homosexual adolescents.

Someone should tell the Family Research Council that if you are accused of distorting legitimate science, it's probably not best to lodge a defense by citing a piece you wrote which was publicly called out for distorting legitimate science.

It makes you look like a huge liar.

Related posts:

Peter Sprigg won't address hate group charges but will lie about same-sex households

Family Research Council has yet to come out with 'detailed response' against SPLC charges

Will the Family Research Council ever fulfill its promise and address SPLC's charges?

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Critic46 said...

The claim of higher rates of mental problems and depression are similar to the military's claim that homosexuality is a security risk. The only reason it was a security risk is because the military would kick out the member if the homosexual status was discovered. By repealing DADT, the 'security risk' is gone, since there is no longer any consequence for being openly gay.

Bernie Keefe said...

I too have received answers beck as vague as this one from the FRC. My question was referring to EDNA. The answer I got parroted their website with no details at all. It was rife with unsubstantiated proganda.