Monday, August 15, 2011

GLSEN issues cease-and-desist letter to Family Research Council

This morning, GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) issued a cease-and-desist letter via its attorneys to the Family Research Council "demanding that FRC cease distribution and publication of a video clip containing false and defamatory statements about GLSEN, as well as any other similar false and defamatory statements that may be contained in a longer video associated with that video clip."

 The cease-and-desist letter has to do with the video below in which Tony Perkins, head of FRC, and Brian Camenker, head of the Massachusetts anti-gay group Mass Resistance claimed that GLSEN and the Massachusetts Public Schools distributed an explicit safe-sex guide called The Little Black Book to fifth to ninth graders at a conference in 2005:

But this claim has been debunked several times. Most specifically, the group Media Matters conducted a detailed debunking of this claim in December 2009.

In a May 19, 2005, article, The Boston Globe reported:
Fenway Community Health officials yesterday said they left about 10 copies of the ''Little Black Book" on an informational table they rented at a conference sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network of Boston. The annual event, held on April 30 at Brookline High School, was aimed at high school students, educators, counselors, administrators, and parents. The ''Little Black Book," produced by the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, is targeted at 18-and-older gay men, according to the committee. The book uses vivid descriptions and colloquial terms to describe the ways HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented and spread.
A Fenway Community Health employee brought the pamphlets along with other materials and put them on the table by mistake, said Chris Viveiros, a spokesman for Fenway Community Health.
''Fenway Community Health regrets accidentally making available a small number of copies of the Little Black Book, an HIV-prevention publication for gay and bisexual men over the age of 18, at an event where young people were present," said Dr. Stephen Boswell, Fenway Community Health's president and CEO.


 From the Globe article:
Sean Haley, executive director of the education network (GLSEN), which sponsored the conference, added: ''We have very clear policies that sexually explicit material of any kind will not be made available at the conference. Had I seen the book, I would have asked them to put it away."
At the start of the event, Haley said, network officials scanned each of the 10 tables it had rented, for $35 apiece, to outside groups. He said nobody saw the pamphlet at the time. ''We're just going to have to be more rigorous in our review of materials," he said.
Haley said that about 500 people attended the conference, roughly half of them students. He said only ''a handful" were younger than high-school aged.
On May 18, 2005, WHDH 7News Boston's Sean Hennessey reported that Brookline Superintendent of Schools William H. Lupini says that "none of his students, he believes, took the [Fenway] book home."

In its cease-and-desist letter, GLSEN said the following:

The false statements in the FRC video can do real and lasting harm to our work. FRC has made those false and defamatory statements in an obvious effort to raise money, undermine GLSEN’s work and maintain the status quo: school systems where LGBT students face unacceptable levels of harassment and violence and where anti-LGBT bias is a weapon of choice for bullies. We must respond forcefully and aggressively to defend our ability to fulfill our mission, and to protect ourselves and our partners in this critical work – the countless people in school communities across the country who work with GLSEN and our chapters to ensure safe and affirming schools for all students, utilizing our resources, attending our trainings, advocating with us for urgently needed change to make a positive difference in schools.

Both the FRC and Mass Resistance have been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as anti-gay hate groups due to what SPLC calls an intentional spreading of demonizing propaganda against the gay community and pro-gay organizations.

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Deadbeat dad Congressman puts down same-sex households

Sorry but this one is too good to ignore.

According to ThinkProgress, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) had some negative things to say about same-sex households. Apparently during a recent town hall meeting in Crystal Lake, IL, Walsh retreaded the same religious right junk about children "having a right to a home with a mother and a father:

Walsh is a supporter of traditional marriage between a man and a woman for economic reasons. He also stated that studies have shown it is more beneficial for a child to be raised in a home where a mother and father are present rather than in same-sex households. The congressman, however, said he was open to further information and research that might disprove that. 

How nice it is for Walsh to give us the caveat of  "he might change his mind if further research disproved his opinion." I would suggest that he get to reading because there is a plethora of information out there which contradicts his beliefs on same-sex households.

But it would be nicer if Walsh wasn't late with his child support payments. You all will remember that Walsh is the same Congressman who, in a video (starting at 2:30), said that he owed it to his children not to vote to raise the debt ceiling. At the same time, however, he was being sued by his ex-wife for $117,437 in child support payments for his three children.

Just in case you are wondering about Walsh's monetary situation, he loaned his own campaign $35,000 and paying himself back $14,200 for the loans.

Mr. Walsh, in this case, silence is definitely golden. Maybe it would have been better if you had pretended not to hear the question. Anything would have been much better than making a hypocritical ass of yourself.

Perhaps it would be a good idea to PAY YOUR DAMN CHILD SUPPORT before you start creating caste systems against loving families simply because they may contain parents of the same-sex.

One more thing:  National Organization for Marriage, I absolutely DARE you to write a blog post on Walsh's comments.  Please, please, please do it.

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Marcus Bachmann continues to lie about 'ex-gay therapy' and other Monday midday news briefs

The militant homosexual savage attack on the religious freedom of little old lady affidavit signers - Box Turtle Bulletin gives a definitive breakdown on phony religious right cause celebres.

Marcus Bachmann Backtracks: Denies Using ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy, Claims He Never Called Gays ‘Barbarians’ - Sorry Marcus but we all know that you are lying.

CDC Official Discusses Impact Of Stigma On New HIV Infections - Let's not forget that we are still fighting this disease.

GHANA: Christians March Against Gays - Pray for our brothers and sisters in Ghana.

Staver: Under Obama, The US Is "One Of The World's Immoral Leaders" - Mat Staver and Matt Barber would know about immorality - particularly the immorality of lying and bearing false witness.

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Over 900 demand that Congress reject fraudulent anti-gay testimony

Over 900 members of the gay community and their allies sent a message to Congress demanding that it take a hard look at the people and groups called to testify against gay rights during its hearings.

These individuals all signed a petition through asking that Congressional leaders scrutinize the testimony given by religious right spokespeople and groups because the testimony could contain inaccurate and fraudulent information.

The petition is the brainchild of Alvin McEwen, blogmaster of Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters and a contributing writer on such sites as The Huffington Post,, Pam's House Blend, and LGBTQ Nation.

According to McEwen, the idea for the petition sprang from the July hearing on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) when Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) called out Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery for distorting a government study to claim that heterosexual households are better at raising children than same-sex households.

While the blogsphere was abuzz about this incident, McEwen said he was concerned mostly about the times when religious right witnesses testifying in front of Congress were not called out on their distortions.

The petition points to two incidents. One was when Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage committed the same error as Minnery in an earlier Congressional hearing on DOMA this year.

The other incident took place in 2009 when Family Research Council head Tony Perkins cited information in front of Congress from pro-gay health sites to contend that homosexuality is a "deadly lifestyle." In doing this, Perkins omitted the fact that none of the sites implied that homosexuality was a "deadly lifestyle,"but rather that homophobia leads some gays into unhealthy behaviors.

"And unfortunately," McEwen said, "both Gallagher and Perkins got away with these distortions."

McEwen says that more attention should be paid to how religious right groups either rely on junk science or the distortion of legitimate science to back up their claims that homosexuality is somehow dangerous.

As further proof of this, McEwen points to at least 11 instances where legitimate researchers and physicians have complained about how religious right groups have distorted their work to make this case.

"The methods these organizations use against the gay community is highly skilled," McEwen said. "Usually they anoint 'policy experts' with no expertise other than the ability to repeat their false talking points. And these points are geared to exploit people's religious beliefs against homosexuality. It's common sense that if you believe homosexuality to be a sin, then it doesn't take much persuasion to make you believe that promiscuity, disease, drug abuse, pedophilia, and all sorts of negative behaviors are indicative of the homosexual orientation."

McEwen also points to several questionable techniques used by religious right groups, such as continuously changing the alleged number of sexual partners of gay men, referring to convenience sample studies which cannot be used to generalize about the entire gay community (such as the number of clients in STD clinics), citing books and studies about the gay community which were published over 10 to 30 years ago, and referring to negative health statistics about the gay community while omitting what is said about how homophobia plays a role in creating these negative health statistics.

For the longest time blogs, such as McEwen's, have been complaining about what the religious right does to the gay community through its distortion of science. Finally last year, there began to be some mainstream attention when the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization geared to fighting racism, homophobia, and other inequalities, called out several of these groups for spreading propaganda about the gay community.

However, for McEwen, it's not nearly enough. He said that groups like the Family Research Council, the National Organization for Marriage, and Focus on the Family still have influence in the minds of some Congressional leaders. And he hopes that the petition will attract attention to how religious right groups lie about the gay community.

"Congressional leaders need to be aware of the actions of these groups they count on for credible negative information about the gay community," he said. "These groups and their affiliate organizations have been getting away with this sort of thing for years. I think it is probably one of the most missed stories in the history of journalism."

"It's extremely hypocritical for religious right groups to make a so-called Christian stance against homosexuality and then stoop to un-Christian methods to further that stance. Lies in the name of God are still lies."

Sign the petition here.

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