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NOM’s Brian Brown: Blame same-sex marriage for LGBT teen suicide

Marriage equality NOM Exposed Right-wing

By Adam Bink

This is such a head-shaker I don’t even know where to start. From NOM’s blog, bolding mine:

Hatred directed at marriage supporters is culturally invisible, almost never reported by the media, and takes place with the apparent tacit approval of many powerful voices in “society.” When fear leads people to decline to tell pollsters what they really think, that’s celebrated by the New York Times as a sign of moral progress.

In fact, many responsible voices justify this hatred on ideological grounds. “You sow what you reap,” an anonymous legislator reportedly told the New York Daily News explaining why so few voices have come to Sen. Rev. Díaz’s defense.

Part of the trick is the increasing tendency of respectable voices and respectable news outlets to directly or indirectly blame marriage supporters for every suffering.

The latest example? The CDC released a report showing that teenagers who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender engage in much, much higher rates of behavior suggesting social, emotional, or psychological distress, including smoking cigarettes, binge drinking, and attempting suicide.

The media and many experts were quick to say social stigma is the main culprit. Surely it plays a role.

But buried in the same report are data from two different states, Wisconsin and Massachusetts. One has had gay marriage since 2003, and the other has had a marriage amendment since 2006.

Which do you suppose is a safer place for LGBT teens?

The answer: Wisconsin by a mile. For example, about 25 percent of Massachusetts teens who self-identify as “gay” said they had missed schools because they felt unsafe, compared to 14 percent of Wisconsin teens. More than half (50.5 percent) of Massachusetts gay teens said they felt “sad or hopeless” compared to 29 percent of Wisconsin teens. Thirty-three percent of Massachusetts gay teens attempted suicide, compared to less than 20 percent of Wisconsin teens. Massachusetts gay teens were about twice as likely as Wisconsin gay teens to commit a suicide attempt serious enough to require medical care (15 percent to 8 percent). (By contrast, heterosexual teens in both states were about equally likely to have committed a suicide attempt that required medical care: around 2 percent.)

It’s hard to be a gay teen, but if you are going to be one, it’s much better to live in Wisconsin, a state which passed a marriage amendment by 60 percent, than Massachusetts, a state which has gay marriage.

Why is this stark clear evidence that marriage is not responsible for gay teens’ suffering never, ever considered worthy of mention in the debates over bullying?

Let me get this straight. In most states, LGBT teens grow up knowing they can’t (a) come out in the workplace because they could lose their job or otherwise face discrimination (b) serve in the military (c) adopt children with the person they love (d) meet someone abroad, fall in love, and not risk he or she being then deported under DOMA if they aren’t lucky enough to get permanent residency (e) marry the person they love (f) all of the other things we queers would like to do that straight people can do like, I don’t know, file taxes jointly (thrill ride!). To paraphrase Rep. Barney Frank, if this is the “homosexual agenda”, it’s pretty mom-and-apple-pie, isn’t it?

Then Brian Brown’s roadshow comes to town to make part (e) just a little bit more so, airing all kinds of horrible ads about the dangers of people marrying those of the same-sex and homosexuality and all of that, leaves, and he’s telling me that he’s making LGBT kids feel better about themselves, and safer, by doing so? What?

Of course, as Alvin McEwen notes, Brown leaves the part out where the “experts” note the actual stressors:

This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people. Any effort to promote adolescent health and safety must take into account the additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination, and victimization,” said Howell Wechsler, Ed.D, M.P.H, director of CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH). “We are very concerned that these students face such dramatic disparities for so many different health risks.”

Absolutely outrageous.


  • 1. peterplumber  |  June 10, 2011 at 5:31 am

    I noticed something in the way Brian writes. When referring to the facts about Massachusetts, he refers to the gay teens. When referring to the Wisconsin fact, he never includes the word gay, he simply says teens. Could it be that Brian is being deceitful in his newsletters??

  • 2. Carol  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:35 am

    I saw that too … like comparing apples and pineapples. Brian also needs to understand the "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy.

  • 3. JoeRH  |  June 10, 2011 at 5:33 am

    Does anyone have any ideas about the suicide statistics? Obviously having gay marriage has nothing to do with it, but why, if these statistics are correct, are gay teens more suicidal in MA?

  • 4. peterplumber  |  June 10, 2011 at 5:51 am

    I grew up in New England and the entire Boston Metro area is a tough place. If you aren't a tough guy, you are bullied. Western Mass. is a quiet, more sparely populated area. For instance, if you grew up in Florida, Mass. you may well be the only gay teen in town!
    When I was 20, my parents moved to Madison, Wis, so I have visited that area a lot. Wisc. seems to be a more friendly place to live. Although it too has many rural areas, the people there seem to be more open and friendly. In and around the Madison area, a college town, there is plenty to do and the people are great. Then there is "The Dells"…
    I don't think any comparison between Mass. and Wisc. is fair, no matter what the subject of the comparison. The two states are like night & day. It would be like comparing Holland to Laos.

  • 5. Sagesse  |  June 10, 2011 at 6:00 am

    Attempting to subcribe, using the RSS button and the subscription below (using my WordPress ID). Neither has worked for me since early yesterday. Anyone else having the same issue?

  • 6. Adam Bink  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:45 am

    Anything in your spam?

  • 7. Sagesse  |  June 10, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Good thought, but no.

  • 8. Adam Bink  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:46 am

    Also, you should be getting this:

    Please click the link below to activate your subscription to Prop 8 Trial Tracker:

    After you've clicked the activation link, you will start receiving comment notifications for this blog post!

    And you have to activate. Are you getting that?

  • 9. Ann S.  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Adam, I actually don't get that email and don't have to click an activation link. Maybe it's because I signed up for a new WordPress account?

  • 10. Adam Bink  |  June 10, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Whichever account you subscribe for, you should check spam. It should not be a function of WP as far as I know, because I am subscribing with a WP account.

  • 11. Kathleen  |  June 10, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I did receive the activations emails, clicked on the link, and after several times of getting an error message, it finally went through with a message that my subscription was activated. But I'm not getting the notices.

  • 12. Kathleen  |  June 10, 2011 at 8:14 am

    But this time, I still haven't received an email for this subscription

  • 13. Sagesse  |  June 10, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Yes. I get the activation email, and the message says the activation was successful. Yesterday, I was getting an error message on that screen. I've also tried the RSS button and submitted my e-mail address, but nothing from that source either. Should I try an Intense Debate ID?

  • 14. JonT  |  June 10, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Not working for me quite yet either, and no, nothing in my spam. I have whitelisted * anyway.

    I added this page (subscribe via the RSS button) about 3 hours ago. I did not receive any kind of confirmation email.

    However I did receive two comments posted to this page (and only those 2) so far. There are no errors in my mailserver logfile (like with the last 'revamp'). As near as I can tell, they are just not being sent.

    The 2 I did receive are:


    Maybe those are the only ones posted in this thread since I subscribed to it. I'll sub the other ones too and see.

  • 15. Chrys  |  June 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Yes, I am having the same issue. It won't even let me sign in to post via WordPress, and I'm thinking I may need to set up a whole new account or use openID. No, password hasn't changed, ID hasn't changed, none of that.

  • 16. AnonyGrl  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I went and looked at the survey. The disparity between what was reported in Boston and Wisconsin is HUGE. For all the years the survey covers (2001-2009) Boston actually asked students about how they self identify sexually, Wisconsin never did. For the entire survey period, Boston asked students to identify the sex of their sexual contacts, Wisconsin only asked that question for the final two survey years (2007 and 2009). The total sample size in Boston was 7864. The total sample size in Wisconsin was 4528.

  • 17. AnonyGrl  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:28 am


    Since Wisconsin never asked about sexual identitty, it is impossible for Brian to speak about the sexual identity of Wisconsin teens, he can only infer it from the way they report sexual contacts. Also, he misaligns statistics. When he speaks of "almost 25%" of Boston's gay teens missing school, that is among the self identified gay students. There IS no comparison for Wisconsin, since the question of sexual identity was not asked. If, however, you look at the stats for "students who have only had sexual contact with the opposite sex" which WAS asked, in Wisconsin, the % of students who missed school because they felt threatened was 14% and in Boston it was 19.2%. On that same table, it says that students who have had sexual contact with BOTH sexes are more likely to miss school in Wisconsin 16.7% in Wisconsin to 11.5% in Boston.

  • 18. Joe  |  June 11, 2011 at 6:20 am

    "The disparity between what was reported in Boston and Wisconsin is HUGE."

    How about if we compare Boston to Milwaukee, instead of Boston to the whole state?

    Massachusetts was 17,188. Wisconsin was 4528.

    But Boston was 7684 and Milwaukee was 3733.

  • 19. AnonyGrl  |  June 13, 2011 at 7:04 am

    The disparity is not only in numbers, but in the questions that were asked, and how much of the sample were asked those questions. In Boston (and Massachusetts) the entire sample was asked about sexual preference. In Wisconsin, only during the last two years was that question addressed, and even then only obliquely. Wisconsin teens were never asked their sexual preferences, only the sex of their sexual partners (if any). Thus teens who had NO partners, but would still have self identified as homosexual were not even considered in the Wisconsin group.

  • 20. Ann S.  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:46 am


  • 21. peterplumber  |  June 10, 2011 at 8:30 am

    So, Brian is not being deceitful? He is just confused?? 😉

  • 22. Mark Mead-Brewer  |  June 10, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Brian Brainless Brown Suit has to be the most disingenuous person on the planet. How can he sleep at night knowing he has spun so many lies and falsehoods….has tampered with the lives of thousands of good men and women.
    I pray that some day his eyes are opened to the evil that he does.

  • 23. peterplumber  |  June 10, 2011 at 11:04 am

    He is able to sleep well at night, because he truly believes what he says. He is so closed minded that when he reads facts about gay people, SSM, or anything that does not fit in his skull, he bypasses that part and can only absorb what jives with what is already in his head.

  • 24. Mark M. (Seattle)  |  June 10, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I suppose that makes as much sense as anything at this point……. makes my head hurt

  • 25. JonT  |  June 10, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Self delusion is a wonderful thing…

  • 26. Lodi Gal  |  June 13, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Maybe it's self loathing?

  • 27. Gingerwall  |  June 10, 2011 at 10:25 am

    In biology, when somebody is trying to show causation, we are very skeptical unless somebody can propose a FEASIBLE MECHANISM.

    GLBT activists say that gay teens are more likely to commit suicide when they feel threatened and attacked by anti-gay and anti-gay-marriage forces that devalue their sense of self-worth and prospects for a happy future. That is a feasible mechanism.

    Brian Brown is suggesting that somehow allowing gay marriage increases teen suicide… but doesn't even try to provide a reasonable mechanism. Because there is none. It doesn't make sense. Even he knows that "gay teens see that heterosexual marriage no longer has any value in society, so they kill themselves in despair over the fact that their parents' marriage is meaningless" won't pass the smell test among any person with a functioning brain, regardless of their political alignment. Even if one did believe this argument, it should affect gay and straight teens equally anyway.

    So… yeah, BB, what's your mechanism?

  • 28. Carpool_Cookie  |  June 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

    It's as if they don't have enough REAL stuff to report on, so they just dive in and MAKE STUFF UP!

    If this were included in a term paper, it would get an "F".

  • 29. JonT  |  June 10, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    'Hatred directed at marriage supporters…'

    Aren't we the marriage supporters?

    The rest is the same old play-the-victim scam he always runs.

  • 30. Sagesse  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Maggie Gallagher outlines NOM’s messaging strategy on same-sex marriage

  • 31. Sagesse  |  June 10, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Quoting Maggie

    "…the number of children who are being raised by same sex couples is infinitesimal… less than one half of one percent of all children"

    According to the Williams Institute, in 2005, 270,313 children under 18 were being raised by same sex couples. Undoubtedly higher today, and does not count adult children of same sex couples. I'm sure they're relieved to know their needs and their families are statistically insignificant.

  • 32. Sagesse  |  June 10, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    New York

    Roll Call: Marriage Equality

    Patch asks eight Brooklyn state senators how they would vote on bill to legalize gay marriage.

  • 33. AnonyGrl  |  June 13, 2011 at 7:17 am

    No big surprises on this list. We know Kruger is against, and Golden is a dyed in the wool Republican who will not vote for equality.


  • 34. Sagesse  |  June 11, 2011 at 4:03 am

    In Richmond VA the rainbow flag still flies.

    Rainbow Flag Goes Up; Letters Flow In…

  • 35. Sagesse  |  June 11, 2011 at 4:14 am

    In fairness, Grassley did not grill her about her sexual orientation or her views on sexual orientation in the courts. He grilled her because she is too young, and has views on the treatment of terrorists.

    Grassley grills lesbian nominee for federal court

  • 36. AnonyGrl  |  June 13, 2011 at 7:22 am

    From that article…

    "During the introductions for the hearing, Nathan introduced her “partner” Meg Satterthwaite and other members of her family, including her two-year-old twin sons."

    Why is partner in quotes? If it was her partner, Mark Satterthwaite, and her two year old sons, I bet it would not have been.

    Two steps forward, one step back. Sigh.

  • 37. Joe  |  June 11, 2011 at 6:24 am

    "I am not sure WHERE he is pulling suicide statistics from, but the way I read the charts, teens in Wisconsin who have only had sexual contact with the same sex are CONSIDERABLY MORE likely to seriously consider suicide than those in Boston, at a rate of 30.8% in Wisconsin and only 17.8% in Boston."

    Once again, on a city by city comparison, Milwaukee vs Boston, the numbers are 17.8% for Boston and 17.3% for Milwaukee.

    On a state by state comparison, its 30.8% for Wisconsin, vs 25.3% for Boston.

  • 38. AnonyGrl  |  June 13, 2011 at 6:59 am

    So any way you look at it, Brian's claims that Wisconsin teens are less likely to be suicidal is a lie,the statistical difference between 17.8% and 17.3% being moot, and the statistical difference between 30.8% and 25.3% being significant.

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