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Brian Brown gets it right (but does he know it?)

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

I wish NOM president Brian Brown had just a smidge more self-awareness. Because then he’d realize that, in his most recent newsletter, he accidentally presents NOM as a hateful and bigoted organization.

Brian writes this of the Iowa hearings on marriage:

Even I, who’ve heard pretty much everything at this point, was a little shocked to hear one gay marriage supporter say:

“It would be less harmful to me if you would just beat me up in a dark alley. It would be less hurtful to me if you would just spray paint the word f—-t on my garage door. Nothing you could do to me physically would be more hurtful to me than the action you are proposing to take with this resolution.”

If you and I disagree with him about marriage, we are hurting him as much as–more than–if we insulted and beat him?

I know too many of our fellow citizens and neighbors who support gay marriage have reached a similar boiling point of emotion-driven unreasonableness. And I want to, on the one hand, give them a big hug or something to make them feel better.

Emotion-driven unreasonableness?  Really?  Let’s check this out.  (more…)

151 Comments February 5, 2011

Utter deception or utter delusion?

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

I can’t believe this.  Here’s what NOM wrote on their blog, complaining about Paul Krugman saying that toxic, eliminationist political rhetoric comes overwhelmingly from the right.

By “eliminationist rhetoric,” Paul Krugman means rhetoric which suggests that one’s opponents are not just wrong, they are illegitimate—that in a better world they would not exist.

Well, you and I know a little about rhetoric that sounds like that don’t we?

(He may only be speaking of rhetoric inciting to violence, and I want to be clear that I don’t consider gay-marriage advocates on their worst day to be doing that.)

But for me the worst part of the gay marriage debate is this eliminationist quality coming (in my experience, and of course I’m speaking only about public and visible organizations and spokespeople) almost exclusively from one side: activists who support gay marriage.

“Almost exclusively from one side: activists who support gay marriage.” All I can say is…




This is just two days – two days! – after NOM quoted a Catholic Bishop who called same-sex marriage “the modern day evil works of Satan.”

Who distorted the Bible to say God slaughters entire cities for homosexuality.

Who said – one day after the shooting of Rep. Giffords: “In this battle, there is no neutrality, no demilitarized zone.”

Really NOM, you don’t think anti-gay eliminationist rhetoric is coming from the right?  Let’s go to Facebook and check out your “Favorite Pages.”

There’s the Family Research Council!  Their president thinks gays are in the hands of the Enemy.  Their spokesman says the US should be deporting gays.  And that homosexuality should be criminalized.

Speaking of throwing gays in prison – the Texas GOP platform also wants to criminalize homosexuality.  So does Montana’s.  Can you name anything – anything – comparable in a Democratic Party platform?

Yet you stand there and say the eliminationist rhetoric comes “almost exclusively from one side: activists who support gay marriage.”  It’s baffling, infuriating, bizarre.  Are you lying?  Or have you broken with reality?  Believe me, if there’s a third option I’d love to hear it.

On the other hand, maybe you’re right.  Maybe the eliminationist rhetoric is only on the left.  Because what I see when I look at your allies on the right is an eliminationist agenda.

25 Comments January 14, 2011

"The Evil Modern Day Works of Satan"

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

NOM’s blog yesterday quotes a sermon from Bishop Robert Evans:

I submit that today, in the State of Rhode Island, we are faced with a challenge to our baptismal promises to renounce the modern day evil works of Satan and confess our belief in Christ and His holy Catholic Church…This challenge takes the form of an attempt to grant to same sex couples that recognition reserved for the oldest and the only institution God created in His own image: Man as male and female united in marriage.

The evil modern day works of Satan.

NOM claims they’re not anti-gay.  They’ve complained about unjust accusations of hatred.  I have to ask:

If it’s not hatred to say your opponents are working to advance the cause of Satan, then what is?

That’s not a rhetorical question.  I really want to know where NOM sees the line between civil discourse and hatred.  I want them to make it clear.

To me, this is hate.  I don’t care that it’s based on religious belief — anyone who’s studied history knows that religious passion can inspire hatred, and vice versa.  And I don’t even want to shut him down — “hate speech” isn’t a crime in this country and I hope it never is.

But we still need to denounce it when we hear it — shine the light of truth on it and call it out for what it is.

The good and gentle Bishop’s statement has a few more problems:  He repeats the lie that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality, when every Bible reader knows the prophet Ezekial said:

Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.  They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

Jesus extends this condemnation of arrogance and inhospitability when he tells his disciples:

Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.

Anyone who reads the story can tell you it’s not about commited same-sex relationships but about the violent gang rap of two men/angels, which surely we can all oppose.  Evans’ lie about this Bible story makes it all the more ironic when he tells his parishoners:

Remember the title Jesus gave Satan: “The father of lies.”

There’s more.  Evans tell his flock:

In this battle, there is no neutrality, no demilitarized zone.

Is this just a case of awful timing?  I don’t think for one moment he meant this as anything but a metaphor (a literal interpretation would leave him open to charges of incitement to violence, a criminal offense that long predates hate crime legislation).  But Evans gave this sermon on two days ago, on Sunday, January 9.  Given our current turmoil over the limits of rhetoric, along with the long and very real history of anti-gay violence in America, shouldn’t a spiritual leader be in the vanguard of those pulling back from such speech?

But leave aside his unfortunate phrasing.  This man is lying about the Bible and saying that gays are doing the work of Satan.  And NOM is spreading the message.

I have to ask again — if that’s not hate, what is?

137 Comments January 12, 2011

“That was a stupid lie, easy to expose, not worthy of you.”

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

By Rob Tisinai

Maggie Gallagher is savvy.  She leads her followers away from the truth, but usually through distortion, misdirection, obscure language, misinterpretation, and sins of omission.  It’s rare to catch her in a simple, direct lie.  But she be must in a snit , because the Southern Poverty Law Center has added 13 anti-gay organizations to their list of hate groups, and accused 5 more (including Maggie’s National Organization for Marriage) of pushing demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities – though it stopped short of calling these 5 “hate groups.”

On Sunday, Maggie quoted a Washington Post column by Matthew Franck:

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a once-respected civil rights organization, publishes a “report” identifying a dozen or so “anti-gay hate groups,” some for no apparent reason other than their vocal opposition to same-sex marriage.

This.  Is.  A.  Lie.

Not one of these groups – not one – appeared on the hate-group list merely for opposing marriage equality.  The SPLC specifies why it added each one.  You’ll find more details at the end of this post, but in short, the organizations were guilty of offenses like:

  • Distorting scientific research to demonize gays, even over the original authors objections.
  • Calling for the criminalization of homosexuality
  • Advocating the death penalty for gays.
  • Accusing gay men of recruiting children and being more likely to molest them than straights.
  • Holding gays responsible for Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

Maggie knows this.  She includes a link to the SPLC report containing this information! We have no room to give her — or Mr. Franck — the benefit of any conceivable doubt. They may not think these items justify the “hate group” designation, but they’re committing outright deceit in saying that opposing marriage equality was the only “apparent reason.”

Maggie spread this lie in a piece called, “Is the Hate Card the Recourse of Those Unwilling to Engage the Debate?”  I happen to agree that some activists play the hate card too readily, but Maggie needs to pick her battles.  Death penalties?  Pedophilia?  Nazi Germany?  There is hate here.  (She ought to fight those battles more honestly, too, but I doubt that’s a winning strategy for her cause).

The rest of the column is mired in contradiction. Click through for more of that in the extended entry. (more…)

104 Comments December 20, 2010

This is puzzling

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

Dr. Patrick Fagan writes:

Adoption is life-alteringly beneficial for children. Such is the general conclusion from a review of the literature.

Adoption in the first 12 months of the child’s life produces the best outcomes, but all children will benefit, regardless of their age at placement. Adopted children outperform their non-adopted peers and non-adopted siblings.

What’s so puzzling?  Fagan is writing for our opponents, the Family Research Council.  And this study is being promoted by The Ruth Institute — NOM’s youth outreach program.

You’ve heard of NOM, right?  And its founder, Maggie Gallagher?  You know, the lady who misuses research to argue that children do best when raised by both biological parents.  Maggie goes on interview after interview claiming traditional marriage must be protected because it’s how children can “love and be loved by their own mother and father” — meaning their biological mother and father.

That’s kind of a shot at adoptive parents, but Maggie needs to take that shot.  It’s the only way she can argue against marriage equality.   If adoptive parents count as real and valuable parents, then their families deserve the protections and stabilizing effects of marriage, too — and that includes families headed up by gay or lesbian couples.

Yet here we have NOM pushing a study that says adoption is valuable.  That adopted children outperform their non-adopted peers and non-adopted siblings.  That the sooner kids are adopted the better.

NOM is unintentionally highlighting the danger of letting kids languish foster care or institutions instead being adopted by loving, same-sex parents who enjoy all the family protections that marriage equality makes possible.

A commenter on the Ruth Institute’s website asked about this.  I’ll be watching closely to see what they reply.

17 Comments December 16, 2010

NOM has questions? We have answers.

Cross-posted at Waking Up Now.

by Rob Tisinai

NOM employee Jennifer Roback Morse has questions for Ted Olson and David Boies, the power attorneys fighting for marriage equality.

Sometimes questions are just a request for information.  Sometimes they invite us to think of new things.

And sometimes they’re a clumsy, dishonest rhetorical device.   Writers occasionally use them to avoid presenting evidence, to avoid careful reasoning, to avoid having their sloppy thought carefully dismantled.

For instance, simply asking Are you absolutely certain nothing bad will happen? is a lot easier than making a clear case that some specific bad thing is coming.

That’s Morse’s strategy with these questions.  The problem, though, is she’s not very good at it.  She’s made the mistake of asking questions that are easy to answer.  She’s merely shown us the limits of her own thinking.  So here are her questions, along with my answers.  Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Do you seriously believe it is a “myth” or mere “prejudice” that children need their mothers and fathers?

Research shows that children need their parents.  It shows that the gender of those parents matters very little compared to to the benefits of living in a stable, permanent home.  So we don’t understand why many on your side would rather keep children in foster care or institutions rather than with permanent same-sex parents.

Do you seriously believe that it is “beyond dispute” that redefining marriage will have no long term social consequences, except for making life better for same sex couples?

Nice framing of the question, Jennifer.  No prediction of the future is “beyond dispute.”  With criteria like that, we’d never allow change — we’d never have made it out of our ancestors’ caves.  I do see long-term benefits, though — more stable homes for children, fewer kids in foster care and institutions, and more hope for gay teens wondering about their future.  If you have negative consequences in mind, though, name them and persuade us instead of weaseling the issue with this question.

Do you really believe that mothers and fathers are interchangeable and that gender is irrelevant to parenting? If gender is really irrelevant, why do self-described “gays” insist on having a male sex partner? Why isn’t a really masculine woman just as acceptable as a male sex partner?


You’re equating the parenting relationship with a sexual/romantic relationship.  That’s creepy.  And based on a twisted notion of parenting and sex that few of your followers would endorse.  Ew.

If you believe the law should be that “love makes a family,” do you seriously propose to make “love” a legally defined term?

Oh, sure.  Just like I think “Home is where the heart is” means architects should be board-certified cardiologists.  Come on.  Some expressions have emotional meaning.  Legally-defined terms have legal meaning.  You can’t jump literally back and forth.  But really, you’re just being silly now.

Do children have any rights that adults are bound to respect? Not just the right to not be injured, but positive rights to care and relationship with particular adults, namely their parents?

Of course.  What on earth does this have to do with same-sex marriage?  Oh, wait, you’re doing that thing NOM loves to do — equating “parent” with “biological parent,” and excluding “adoptive parent.”   But it’s a surprise coming from you, Jennifer, because you’re an adoptive parent.  You’d never tell your adoptive child, “I’m not your Mom and don’t start thinking I am.”  No, your adopted child is in a relationship with his (her?) parent — you.

What do you think is the essential public purpose of marriage? We think the essential public purpose of marriage is to attach mothers and fathers to their children and to one another.

So many things wrong with this question.  I’ll have to number them:

  1. What do you mean by “public purpose”?  Also, what do you mean by “essential.”  Please define.
  2. If that’s your “essential public purpose,” then why do you permit the elderly to marry?
  3. What’s with “the essential public purpose”?  Are you saying there’s only one?  That marriage cannot have more than one purpose?
  4. If raising children is the essential public purpose of marriage, it’s odd that most traditional wedding vows don’t mention kids at all.
  5. More to the point, the goal of attaching mothers and fathers to their children and to one another does not exclude same-sex couples.  Marriage will still serve the purpose of uniting parents to each other and to their children, assuming you believe (unlike some of your colleagues) that mothers and fathers can view an adopted child as their child.

When you have reduced marriage to nothing but a government registry of friendships, how exactly do you think children will be attached to their mothers and fathers?

We’re not planning to reduce marriage to nothing but a government registry of friendships.  Stop pretending you’re asking these things to find out the answers — you’re just flinging accusations and ending them with question marks.

These are just my own answers, of course, and I’m a poor substitute for Olson and Boies.  But Jennifer, I’ll tell you this:  I’d loooove to get you in a room face-to-face with our attorneys and watch you ask them these questions directly.

I’d buy tickets.

121 Comments December 11, 2010

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