crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

I'm happy to report that in two day's time, over 300 people have signed up for the Support Kevin Jennings Facebook Group and I know more people are coming.

And this is good news because the religious right won't stop gunning for Jennings. The following is from the Family Research Council's webpage. I gleaned it yesterday:

Over the last two weeks, press outlets like FoxNews.com, Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs have picked up the Jennings story, and the Washington Times ran an editorial demanding an answer regarding Jennings's appointment.

Of course, one of the most shocking pieces of news about Jennings is a story he's told himself (in different ways at different times) about a 15 year old student who came to him and confessed that he was having sex with older men in a bus station restroom. Instead of reporting the high-risk behavior to the boy's parents, school administrators or the police, Jennings's only response was, “I hope you knew to use a condom.”

So even after it's been confirmed by the young man in the center of the controversy that he did not have sex and even if he did, he was 16-years-old at the time (the legal age of consent in Massachusetts, the state where the situation took place), the Family Research Council insists on running the claim that “Jennings counseled an underaged child to have sex with an adult.”

And the situation gets better, or stranger for lack of a better description

Our friend, the Las Vegas lounge pugilist, Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel, wrote a column about Jennings. With a title like Commies, Fascists and Perverts, Oh My!, you know it's going to be a hot mess.

Barber made sure to touch on the lies regarding Jennings, “fistgate,” Harry Hay, etc.

Then he has the nerve to push an old religious right lie:

Multiple studies have established, for instance, that homosexual conduct, especially among males, is considerably more hazardous to one’s health than a lifetime of chain smoking.

One such study – conducted by pro-“gay” researchers in Canada – was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE) in 1997. (see the study here: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/26/3/657.pdf)

While the medical consensus is that smoking knocks from two to 10 years off an individual’s life expectancy, the IJE study found that homosexual conduct shortens the lifespan of “gays” by an astounding “8 to 20 years” – more than twice that of smoking.

“[U]nder even the most liberal assumptions,” concluded the researchers, “gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871. … [L]ife expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 20 years less than for all men.”

There are two things wrong with Barber's citation.

First of all, the 1997 study had NOTHING to do with comparing homosexuality to cigarette smoking. It never said anything about cigarette smoking.

The idea that “homosexuality is more dangerous than cigarette smoking” is a distortion originally generated by the discredited Paul Cameron.

Secondly, regarding the 1997 study, in 2001, the researchers of the study wrote a letter to the International Journal of Epidemiology complaining about how the study was being distorted by people like Barber. It reads in part:

In our paper, we demonstrated that in a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age 20 years for gay and bisexual men is 8 to 21 years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality continued, we estimated that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years would not reach their 65th birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre were experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by men in Canada in the year 1871. In contrast, if we were to repeat this analysis today the life expectancy of gay and bisexual men would be greatly improved. Deaths from HIV infection have declined dramatically in this population since 1996. As we have previously reported there has been a threefold decrease in mortality in Vancouver as well as in other parts of British Columbia.

It is essential to note that the life expectancy of any population is a descriptive and not a prescriptive mesaure.5 Death is a product of the way a person lives and what physical and environmental hazards he or she faces everyday. It cannot be attributed solely to their sexual orientation or any other ethnic or social factor. If estimates of an individual gay and bisexual man's risk of death is truly needed for legal or other purposes, then people making these estimates should use the same actuarial tables that are used for all other males in that population. Gay and bisexual men are included in the construction of official population-based tables and therefore these tables for all males are the appropriate ones to be used.

In summary, the aim of our work was to assist health planners with the means of estimating the impact of HIV infection on groups, like gay and bisexual men, not necessarily captured by vital statistics data and not to hinder the rights of these groups worldwide. Overall, we do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights of gay and bisexual men or any other group.

And Barber is fully aware of this letter. In a 2008 column, he tried to blow it off:

Not surprisingly, that same homosexual lobby and its codependent enablers in the mainstream media moved quickly to sweep the IJE study under the rug. Under tremendous pressure, the researchers who conducted the study even jumped into the political damage control fray issuing a statement which read, “[W]e do not condone the use of our research in a manner that restricts the political or human rights of gay and bisexual men or any other group.”

Barber doesn't go into detail about just what was exactly done to exert pressure on the researchers.

I personally think he told a huge fib. But it's interesting how he continues to distort the 1997 even after he is aware that the researchers complained.

At this point, I'm at a loss for words about the religious right. No matter how low I think they have
stooped, they always suprise me by stooping lower.