Anti-gay groups and LGBT activists alike have spent the past few days arguing over a new study which allegedly finds that children of gay parents are worse off than the children of married, heterosexual parents. The study – conducted by associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus – has been the subject of intense criticism because of its deeply flawed methodology and misleading conclusions.
Lost in the debate, however, has been a discussion of what proponents of the study are actually suggesting about same-sex parents. If the study is correct, what do anti-gay activists believe it proves about gay people in general?
One of the study's most disturbing findings is that children with gay parents reported significantly higher rates of sexual abuse – including rape – by parents or adult figures as kids than children raised by married, heterosexual parents. It's unclear why rates of abuse differ between the two groups, but anti-gay activists have touted the finding as evidence of the long-disproven "gays are pedophiles" myth.
American Family Association (AFA) spokesman Bryan Fischer cited the study as evidence that allowing gay couples to adopt is "a form of sexual abuse." Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) referenced the study while arguing "you're more likely basically to get molested in a household led by two lesbians."
The claim that gays and lesbians are more likely to molest children than heterosexuals is one of the oldest and most damaging myths about homosexuality in American politics. It's the kind of homophobic propaganda that usually distinguishes typical anti-gay organizations from actual anti-gay hate groups. It's not all that surprising, then, that groups like AFA and AFTAH are so eager to promote the Regnerus study.
What's disturbing about the reaction to the study, though, is how widely it's been embraced by "moderate" anti-gay activists and organizations that have typically shied away from this kind of rhetoric. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has offered its enthusiastic endorsement of the study, as have Fox News' Dr. Keith Ablow, National Review Online's Ed Whelan, Focus on the Family, the New Jersey Family Policy Council, and others.
The biggest problem with Regenerus' study isn't just that it's junk science – it's that it gives mainstream conservatives a license to promote one of the most extreme anti-gay smears imaginable under the guise of advancing legitimate scientific inquiry.
When all is said and done, Regnerus' study won't end up providing any useful information about the impact of same-sex parenting. It will, however, reveal volumes about those who are so aggressively championing it.
Fox News' Todd Starnes has never shied away from aligning himself with some of the more extreme and fringe elements of right-wing politics. He's flirted with "birtherism," made inflammatory comments about Muslims and African-Americans, and accused the Obama administration of launching a war against Christianity.
Over the past few months, it appears that Starnes has taken up a new cause – using his position as a Fox News Radio reporter to give a voice to some of the country's worst anti-gay hate groups
Last December, Starnes appeared on the American Family Association's (AFA) "Today's Issues" radio show to promote his Fox News website, ToddStarnes.com. He was joined by Tony Perkins, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-gay "hate group" Family Research Council (FRC). During the segment, Starnes claimed that his website would act as a hub of "culture war stories" that would depict hate groups like FRC and AFA in a positive light:
STARNES: This is sort of a place in the Fox family, the Fox News family, that folks can go and find those culture war stories that we cover.... These are stories that resonate with patriotic, God-fearing, God-loving Americans. And I think when people see the stories in one spot, they really understand what's at stake and how thankful we are that there are organizations like the Family Research Council and American Family Radio that cover these issues. [emphasis added]
Perkins was thrilled, to say the least. He said he was "encouraged" by Starnes' reporting, praising him for "giving voice" to social conservatives who believe that Christianity is under attack:
PERKINS: That's the kind of stuff we like to see. And, this is what I think happens when these issues are talked about. Because in isolation, people think 'oh well, we're all by ourselves" and so they usually back down... But when people realize 'hey, this is a connected effort,' and 'we're not alone,' and people are standing up, it has an encouraging effect to it. And that's why I appreciate the work that you're doing, Todd. I know you're just reporting, but what you're doing is you're giving voice to a lot of Americans out there who are deeply concerned about the direction of this country and in particular this attack on Christianity. And I for one am encouraged by that. [emphasis added]
Starnes was serious about his pledge to mainstream and promote FRC. Since his AFA radio appearance, Starnes has frequently included comments from FRC spokespersons – including Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and Ken Klukowski – in his reporting.
A post on Andrew Breitbart's BigPeace today tops the blog's long history of demonizing Muslims, republishing an essay by Danish psychologist Nicolai Sennels, titled, "The connection between Muslim inbreeding and terrorism":
If there are two things that characterize Islamic culture, they are terrorism and inbreeding. The latest research shows that these two things might be closely connected.
The concept of Islamic terror does not need any introduction. Not everyone might know, however, that seventy percent of Pakistanis and forty percent of Turks are inbred (Jyllands-Posten, 27/2 2009 "More stillbirths among immigrants"). Research shows that the same goes for close to half of all Arabs (Reproductive Health Journal, 2009 "Consanguinity and reproductive health among Arabs").
First cousin marriages have been the tradition in many Muslim families for innumerable generations. Such marriages increase the risk of negative mental and physical consequences. My article "Muslim inbreeding: Impacts on intelligence, sanity, health and society" details extensive research data on the subject. In brief, inbreeding through consanguineous marriages increases the risk of depression (Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2009 "Relationship between consanguinity and depression in a south Indian population") and schizophrenia (American Psychiatric Press, 1982 "The role of genetic factors in the etiology of the schizophrenic disorders").
The risk of serious illnesses or handicaps increases by up to 1800 percent (BMJ, 1994 "Infant death and consanguineous marriage"). Risk of mental retardation increases with 400 percent (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 1978 "Effect of inbreeding on IQ and mental retardation"). Research shows that the IQ is 10-16 points lower in children born from blood related parents and that abilities related to social behavior and empathy develops slower in inbred babies (Indian National Science Academy, 1983 "Consanguinity Effects on Intelligence Quotient and Neonatal Behaviours of nsari Muslim Children" [pdf]). Such facts might make several pieces fall into place for many people. [Big Peace, 12/20/10]
To further support his odious claims, Sennels goes on to cite -- poorly -- a study by Yusuf Yadgari of the Medical University of Kabul that found, based on the autopsied remains of suicide bombers, "that close to ninety percent [of them] were suffering from severe illness such as blindness, cancer, missing limbs or leprosy."
Actually, if you click through to the 2007 NPR report on Yadgari's study, the number is 80 percent. More importantly, only 20 percent of bombers were found to have mental illnesses in this study, while 60 percent were suffering from physical illness, like the aforementioned "cancer, missing limbs, [and] leprosy." While genes play a role in some physical ailments, like cancer, it's not terribly scientific to conclude from autopsies that all these maladies were caused by "inbreeding."
So who is this not-so-scientific scientist?
The American Family Association's Bryan Fischer is still mad at Glenn Beck for not being sufficiently anti-gay. Remember, Beck recently told his Fox News colleague Bill O'Reilly that there are "bigger fish to fry" than same-sex marriage.
Yes, Beck has a long history of pushing anti-gay misinformation, but Fischer wants more out of the right-wing host. Fischer scolds Beck in a post filled with homophobic lies and misinformation, writing:
Glenn, Glenn, wake up and smell the arsenic, my friend.
[Marriage equality is] a threat to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and worst, represents a clear and present danger to children. What were you thinking?
Glenn, Glenn, Glenn: if special rights are given to people just because they want to use the alimentary canal for sexual purposes, no social conservative will be able to criticize homosexual behavior on biblical or moral grounds without running the risk of legal punishment.
Goodbye freedom of speech and goodbye freedom of religion. You, Glenn, will have aided and abetted those who are out to destroy two of the inalienable rights God has given to men, and you don't think that's a threat to this country? Wake up and smell the toxins, my friend.
Glenn, Glenn, Glenn: what about vulnerable children who are deliberately being stuck in households headed by people who engage in unnatural sexual behavior and in households where they are going to grow up missing either the love of a mother or a father or both? Your laissez-faire view of marriage consigns such children to a deprived childhood. Do you not care about that? Do you not believe the state has a legitimate interest in their welfare? How can children suffer such damage without harm to our republic and its values?
This of course comes from the AFA and Fischer who think too many Indian-Americans are winning spelling bees and wants to deport all Muslims. Seriously.
Beck must be shaking in his boots -- imagine if he really did become a champion of LGBT equality (he hasn't) -- Fischer's head just might explode.
This is just too funny.
Apparently right-wing pundit Ann Coulter and Fox News host Glenn Beck aren't sufficiently anti-gay for the fringe American Family Association (AFA).
In a blog post titled "Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck go AWOL in the culture war" the AFA's Bryan Fischer makes the case:
Count Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck as the latest deserters in the culture war and in the battle for sexual normalcy. They have flinched at "precisely that little point which the world and the devil....are attacking," and so have forfeited the right to consider themselves any longer culture warriors.
Ann Coulter is the headliner at "Homocon 2010," a September 25 gathering of so-called gay "conservatives." And Glenn Beck has folded his hand and cashed in his chips on the issue of gay marriage. Even Rush Limbaugh, who supports counterfeit same-sex marriages in the form of civil unions, won't go that far.
Coulter justifies her Benedict Arnold impersonation by saying she speaks all the time in hostile environments, such as Harvard. Okay, Ann, how exactly is this a hostile environment? You're being welcomed as a heroine, as the Joan of Arc of homosexuality, literally the poster child for "Homocon 2010." You are the goddess of gayness for the moment.
Glenn Beck has completely and shamelessly surrendered on the issue of gay marriage, and did so on Bill O'Reilly's program, only the most watched cable news program in all TV land.
Beck said "we have bigger fish to fry" than protecting natural marriage, which, outside of being the bedrock and foundation of any healthy society and the cornerstone of Western civilization, is apparently not that important to Mr. Beck. He's done this even though the members of his church, the Mormon church, were willing to endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune to defend natural marriage in California.
You can retract your surrender at your "Divine Destiny" event at the Kennedy Center on August 27. If you do, all is forgiven.
Coulter has also earned the wrath of World Net Daily for agreeing to appear at GOProud's Homocon -- a gathering of gay Republicans promoting Coulter as "the right wing Judy Garland." The right-wing outlet canceled Coulter's keynote address at an upcoming Miami conference.
As I noted when news broke about Coulter headlining Homocon, the right-wing pundit is notoriously anti-gay.
The same goes for Glenn Beck -- he has a long history of anti-gay commentary and has been extremely hostile to marriage equality.
Maybe Coulter and Beck aren't sufficiently nutty for the AFA's Fischer
After the jump, check out some research on the AFA from Political Correction, Media Matters' partner organization.
AgapePress columnist Joe Murray attacked Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) for giving in to the "Buggery Blitzkrieg," claiming that Santorum's initial signing of a sexual nondiscrimination letter from the Gender Public Advocacy Office guaranteed "that Ru-Paul's employment application is welcomed at his office." Santorum later rescinded his signature from the letter.