One of the problems we have when it comes to dealing with the religious right is that we do not challenge their lies aggressively. It’s not enough to call these groups bigoted. When they come out with distortions, we need to sound the alarm, get on the highest mountain top and beat the drums, and basically let everyone know HOW these groups are lying.
With that in mind, I want to focus on a recent video pushed by the Family Research Council called The Problem with Same-Sex Marriage. It is a video which supposedly gives a true view of the problems with marriage equality that supposedly us gay activists aren’t telling folks.
Don’t be fooled. It’s a propaganda video which pushes phony horror stories. Now the clip below is simply a preview but based on the people in it and the charges made thus far, it’s enough to call FRC’s video a charade:
Let’s break down the distortions:
1. David Parker – At .05 of the preview, we hear a man, David Parker, saying “I have a little girl saying I have a girlfriend, I must be gay.” He goes on to say that someone told him that he doesn’t have a problem with that. And since the background of the video features children going to school, I am guessing that he is talking about a school official.
Here is the thing you should know. The man talking, David Parker, isn’t exactly an innocent parent. And he doesn’t have a little girl (so I am guessing that he is talking about someone else’s child). In 2005, Parker was arrested for trespassing for not leaving his son’s school after a meeting with school officials. Parker claimed that the school would not “allow him to opt his child out of discussions about homosexuality.” Supposedly the school was breaking state law that said parents have a right to opt out their child when it comes to discussions of human sexuality.
The school had already assured Parker that discussions of human sexuality were not a part of his child’s curriculum, but – and they checked with district policy on this – discussions about differing families was not a human sexuality issue AND since several students in the school came from same sex households, they couldn’t control these students talking amongst themselves about their families.
Basically, the entire controversy was conjured up by Parker and a Massachusetts anti-gay group Mass Resistance, i.e. Parker’s goal was to be arrested in order to create controversy.
In May 2006, Parker’s son was involved in a fight at school with a friend over seating in the school cafeteria. His son and the other student made peace with each other and continued to be friends. They even had a play date later that week. In addition, Parker was informed as to what happened.
However, less than a month later, Mass Resistance sent out a press release claiming that Parker’s son was set upon by eight to 10 students who did not appreciate his fight against Joseph Estabrook Elementary. The press release generated considerable buzz with the anti-gay industry, as it was either run or referenced by many so-called “pro-family” web pages, including the Traditional Values Coalition and Concerned Women for America.
Joseph Estabrook Elementary School explained the true story in a press release. However, none of the so-called “pro-family” groups, including Mass Resistance and the Traditional Values Coalition, apologized for any of their claims about a conspiracy to hurt Parker’s son nor did they correct the error.
In 2007, a federal judge dismissed Parker’s case against the school and in 2008, the Supreme Court also denied his case.
2. The Little Black Book – At .26 of the video, we hear about a book, The Little Black Book, allegedly given to children which would teach them about “gay sex.” And we see a man, Brian Camenker, describing the book.
According to a 2005 Boston Globe article, during a conference sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) of Boston, Fenway Community Health officials said they left copies of The Little Black Book. The Little Black Book, produced by the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, was 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.
The Little Black Book incident has given the religious right much traction against the gay community. In 2009, they used the controversy in an attempt to attack Obama appointee and former GLSEN head Kevin Jennings.
Last year, FRC used the incident to attack GLSEN, falsely claiming that the organization made the book available for children. After GLSEN’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter, FRC was forced to pull the video making these charges.
By the way, the man making the charges in the video, Brian Camenker, is the head of Mass Resistance. Mass Resistance is the anti-gay group mentioned in the David Parker incident and has a long history of defaming the gay community through deceptions and lies, such as the following:
At a 2006 religious right gathering in Washington, D.C., Camenker insisted that gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals. “One bill in Massachusetts takes away all the penalties for bestiality,” he claimed. “This is where this [homosexual] agenda is going.” A little later, he added, “They [gays and lesbians] are pushing perversion on our kids.”
Because of this, the Southern Poverty Law Center named Mass Resistance as an anti-gay hate group.
3. Eunice and Owen Johns – At 1.00 of the video, we hear the story of a British couple, Eunice and Owen Johns who was supposedly denied the ability to be foster parents because they would not “affirm” homosexuality. Eunice Johns claims that “our faith was put on trial here.”
But that’s a lie. First of all, this was yet another issue that had nothing to do with marriage equality. The Johns were denied the ability to be foster parents because their beliefs could interfere with the welfare of a child, especially if that child was gay or lesbian.
And according to Robert Pigott, BBC News religious affairs correspondent:
The case is likely to be seen as a landmark decision, as senior judges ruled so decisively against any idea that attitudes might be justified purely because they were Christian in origin.
The court discriminated between kinds of Christianity, saying that Christians in general might well make good foster parents, while people with traditionalist Christian views like Mr and Mrs Johns might well not.
Such views, said the judges, might conflict with the welfare of children.
The summary of the decision, particularly the part regarding how in 2007, the couple was assessed by Jenny Shaw, an independent social worker, tells the entire story:
Referring to the discussion on 23 July 2007, Ms Shaw said:
“both Eunice and Owen expressed strong views on homosexuality, stating that it is “against God’s laws and morals”. They explained that these views stemmed from their religious convictions and beliefs. Eunice explained at a later interview, that she had always been brought up to believe that having a different sexual orientation was unnatural and wrong, and that these convictions had not come about as a result of being “saved”.
In our initial discussion on this issue, when asked if, given their views, they would be able to support a young person who, for example was confused about their sexuality, the answer was in the negative. Eunice at this time also mentioned a visit she had made to San Francisco, in relation to it being a city with many gay inhabitants. She commented that she did not like it and felt uncomfortable while she was there.”
They are also recorded as telling Ms Shaw that they would not feel able to take a child to a mosque.
Then there is this discussion:
Referring to a subsequent discussion with Mrs Johns on 7 August 2007 (Mr Johns was not there) Ms Shaw said:
“I expressed my concerns regarding their views on homosexuality and said that I felt that these did not equate with the Fostering Standards where they related to the need to value diversity, address a child’s needs in relation to their sexuality, enhance the child’s feeling of self-worth and help the child to deal with all forms of discrimination. I emphasised the need for carers to value people regardless of their sexual orientation. Eunice responded by saying that she could not compromise her beliefs, but that she did value people as individuals and would be able to support a young person on that basis. Eunice informed me that her nephew, who lived in the U.S., is gay, and that she has been to stay with him and his partner, and had not treated them any differently from anyone else.
I discussed with Eunice, four possible scenarios, and asked how she might support the young person:
1 Someone who is confused about their sexuality and thinks they may be gay.
2 A young person who is being bullied in school regarding their sexual orientation.
3 A young person who bullies others regarding the above.
4 Someone in their care whose parents are gay.
Eunice’s response to the first situation was that she would support any child. She did not offer any explanation as to how she would go about this. On a previous occasion when the question had been put to Owen, he responded by saying that he would “gently turn them round”. In the second situation, Eunice said she would give reassurance and tell the child to ignore it.
In response to the third situation, Eunice said she didn’t know what she would do. In the case of someone whose parents are gay, Eunice said that it wouldn’t matter, and that she would work with any one.”
She recorded her judgement as being that “Eunice’s response to these hypothetical situations was somewhat superficial, and ignored the impact that her strong beliefs on the issue, could have on her work with young people.” However, at a much earlier stage in the process Mrs Johns had assured a social worker that she would never seek to impose her belief system on a child or to denigrate the parents for their lifestyle or sexual orientation.
Mr Johns’s response to the first postulated scenario is, it might be thought, particularly revealing. There can be no doubting the meaning and significance of his reference to “turning” such a child round.
This is not a case of Christians being discriminated against because they would not “affirm homosexuality.” This was a case of a couple whose beliefs could pose serious problems for a child they would potentially provide a home for. Period.
So based upon these examples, it’s safe to say that FRC’s video is attacking marriage equality with incidents which have nothing to do with marriage equality and with people who are falsely portraying themselves as supposed victims of the alleged gay agenda.
In other words, FRC is peddling trash.
But why should we be surprised. It’s what the organization does best.