Saturday, May 14, 2011

Politifact gives NOM 'Pants on Fire' rating for lying

My request for information on NOM's lies has yielded results. A reader sent me the following information.

On April 29th, the Pulitzer Prize-winning site Politifact bestowed the lowest prize for lying on Christopher Plante, NOM's Rhode Island Executive Director - the "Pants on Fire" rating.  The "Pants on Fire" rating is given when a public figure not only lies but makes a ridiculous claim in addition to the lie.

This is why Plante and NOM was given the "Pants on Fire" rating":

Opponents and proponents of same-sex marriage are retooling after Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox announced April 27 that there was not enough support to pass same-sex marriage legislation in 2011.

A few days after that announcement, Christopher Plante, executive director of National Organization for Marriage - Rhode Island, which opposes gay marriage, was part of a panel on WPRI's "Newsmakers" program, which aired May 1.

"I don't believe Gordon Fox had the votes. Our head count showed pretty clearly that they didn't have the votes and he had to make the decision he did," he said. "Similarly, the people of Rhode Island don't want same-sex marriage."

NOM-RI has been quick to cite the polls it has commissioned as part of its campaign to press the governor and General Assembly to put the question of gay marriage to a statewide referendum. So we wondered whether any polls show that Rhode Islanders, in fact, don't want same-sex marriage.

We called Plante to see if he had any updated numbers. He didn't. He said he was basing his assertion on the belief that a majority of residents had contacted their legislators to object to same-sex marriage, which is why Fox said there weren't enough votes in the House to pass a bill.

Politifact went on to say that this is problematic because people who call their legislators doesn't provide a good view of the general public's opinion.

The site also looked poll done by NOM and those supporting same-sex marriage, finding questionable ways how both posed the question to potential voters which may have influenced the outcome of said polls.

Politifact then reported the results of a third poll - an independent poll - which found the following:

The only independent Rhode Island poll we found was released by Brown University in May 2009, before the NOM-RI and RI-GLAD polls. Its survey of 593 registered voters found that 60 percent of registered Rhode Islanders expressed support when asked, "Would you support or oppose a law that would allow same-sex couples to get married?" Thirty one percent said they would oppose it. About half of the opposition was hard core - 17 percent said they would even oppose civil unions for gay couples.

When informed of this, Plante said the following:

"Would I repeat that I believe the majority of Rhode Islanders don't want gay marriage? Yeah, I'll repeat that," he said when we spoke with him. "Can I give you a definitive poll that shows that? No."

But he also said that his claim is justified because House Speaker Fox couldn't get enough votes for gay marriage in his own chamber. That, he asserted, is because people were "calling their representatives and saying 'We don't want this.' . . . I wasn't making a statistical claim."

But Politifact disagreed:

We disagree. Of course it’s a statistical claim. When you say "the people of Rhode Island don't want same-sex marriage" you're saying that more than 50 percent would oppose such legislation.

The most recent polls from Brown, RI-GLAD and even NOM-RI -- Plante’s organization -- show the opposite.

Not only did the trends in the NOM-RI and RI-GLAD polls show opposition to same-sex marriage evaporating, the Brown and RI-GLAD polls showed that the public wants gay couples to have the right to marry, even if you assume that every voter who didn't express an opinion was opposed to gay marriage.

Plante's assertion isn't just false. It's ridiculous. We rate it Pants On Fire!

It's not surprising that Plante takes this point of view. He is merely following the path of NOM founder, Maggie Gallagher, i.e. make a ridiculously inaccurate statement and when called on it, duck and dodge.

This is the second time Politifact has called out NOM for inaccurate statements. In February, the site called out NOM for lying about gay marriage and school curriculum for kindergartners in Massachusetts.

Gallagher unsuccessfully tried to refute the claim during an interview. She finally told the interviewer to ask NOM's president Brian Brown about the claim.

And speaking of Plante, he has said some crude things about about same-sex households, comparing them to "tragic situations such as divorce or dead parents. He also said that gay marriage turns children into "tea cup dogs"

One wonders what Gallagher thinks of those statements, seeing that in a Congressional hearing, she said that she thinks some gays make "wonderful parents."

Keep those tips coming, folks!

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