Tuesday, August 02, 2011

NOM whining that Al Franken 'ambushed' Tom Minnery

Over two weeks after an incident in which a Focus on the Family spokesperson was busted during a Congressional hearing for distorting a study, the National Organization for Marriage is trying to sneak in a defense of that spokesperson.

On July 20 during a Congressional hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act, Sen. Al Franken called out FOF's Tom Minnery for misrepresenting a study on families to make the case that children do better in a heterosexual household as opposed to a same-sex household.

It was a two minute exchange which was played constantly over the blogsphere. And while some members of the religious right tried weakly to defend Minnery, the gist that Franken had caught him lying was unshakeable.

Now, NOM has something to say about that. Or rather the organization linked to a piece written by a woman named Carrie Daklin of Minnesota Public Radio.

The entire point of Daklin's piece was not focused on whether or not Minnery had tried to deceive, but rather the ridiculous point that Franken was mean to Minnery:

I have testified in a trial. It is not fun, it is not exciting. It is stressful. You are out of your element. Your adversary is salivating to get you to say something he can spin, some little something he can magnify out of proportion and use to his advantage. As an experienced paralegal I knew this when I testified, and I was in hyper-vigilant mode because I knew it. Imagine what it is like for someone who has no knowledge of the courtroom.

I have no knowledge of congressional hearings. I have never been to one. I can only hope that if I did have to testify before the Senate, whoever was questioning me would be kind, would recognize that this was his sandbox, not mine, and that, as a representative of our country, he would not embarrass me for his own purposes.

Sadly, when Tom Minnery testified, that was not the kind of treatment he received from Al Franken.

Where is my violin?

This was a serious hearing about a subject which affects millions of Americans. Minnery was offering testimony which was supposed to accurate. But his testimony was not accurate and Franken called him out on it.

If Daklin is truly concerned with how Minnery was treated, I suggest that she contact him expressing the wish that he get his ducks in the proper row should there be a next time he is called to testify in front of Congress.

As for NOM, is anyone really surprised that the organization weighed in on the issue when it thought people had forgotten about it and that it gave a weak defense of Minnery designed to craftily change the subject.

Apparently those leaving comments on this blog post are also in on the act. One commentator, in an attempt to prove Franken wrong, actually cited a Politico article on the matter. Of course she omitted the portion of the article in which the original author of the study said that Franken was actually correct.

Equality Matters puts the entire thing in the correct perspective:

It makes sense that NOM would focus on Franken’s style and not the substance of his argument; the group is no stranger to manipulating and misrepresenting studies in order to claim that gays and lesbians aren’t capable of being effective parents. In fact, NOM chairwoman Maggie Gallagher did just that, under oath, during Congress’ last hearing concerning the Defense of Marriage Act. 

This is a trend with groups like NOM and others in the anti-gay movement. As Judith Stacey, Professor of Sociology and Gender and Sexuality at New York University wrote in 2004:
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. [University School of Quinnipiac Law Review, via Lexis, 2004, emphasis added]

UPDATE - Now the American Family Association - via its phony news service One News Now - is continuing to push the false narrative that Franken "was mean" to Minnery.  It's interesting that both this phony news article and Daklin's piece emphasizes the fact that Franken is a former comedian while de-emphasizing the simple fact that Franken was correct about Minnery's fraudulent testimony.

 Related post: Tom Minnery's lies are commonplace in religious right data

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Bose said...

I'm in Minnesota now, but in 2006 I heard Minnery speak at a Love Won Out conference near Washington DC.

Here's the comment I left on the NPR piece:

My studies of the ex-gay industry have included hearing Mr. Minnery speak at a Love Won Out conference.

The conference, attended by a few dozen self-identified ex-gays, many more conservatives with openly gay family members, another couple dozen leaders of ex-gay ministries, and a smattering of gay observers inside and protesters outside, happened June 10, 2006, in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC.

The day opened with Joseph Nicolosi teaching long-discredited "truths" about men becoming gay due to distant fathers and/or childhood sexual abuse. It closed with Tom Minnery covering the political landscape.

Minnery wasn't there as a neighborly grandpa who organized anti-gay postcard campaigns on his days off. He was a Vice President of Focus on the Family, the mega-million dollar organization which launched the conference and had been at the front of the pack of anti-gay orgs promoting DOMA in 1996.

He spoke in militaristic terms of gay activists determined to do violence to traditional families. He challenged conservatives engage in the culture war against the evil of anything remotely gay-affirming.

In my mind, the reason that Al Franken's questioning of Minnery garnered so much attention is that Franken just barely scratched the surface of Minnery's career-long, arguably intentional, distortion of scientific study results.

To his credit, Franken didn't treat Minnery like a slightly-misinformed anti-gay postcard-sending neighbor.

Mary in Austin said...

Bravo for that comment, Bose!
Personally, I think Minnery and his friends should put their big boy pants on. If you want to play the game of distorting published research in a Senate hearing, it's no good whining when a Senator proves conscientious and able enough to call you on it.