“Protect” Marriage: A Look at the Christian Right’s anti-SSM website.

July 30, 2012 in General

As 3 News notes, the opponents of same-sex marriage have established an anti-SSM website¬†so that homophobes and allied religious social conservatives can sign a petition opposing the introduction of same-sex marriage. The campaign is supported by a so-called “National Marriage Coalition” centred on Family First, Focus on the Family New Zealand, Family Life New Zealand and Focus on the Family New Zealand, local subsidiary of the predatory US fundamentalist multinational, Focus on the Family.

Response is keen, from individuals such as Marshall Mathers (Eminem), 50 Cents, Tobias Funke (a sexually ambiguous character from the television series Arrested Development) and “Nosy, homophobic people intruding on other people’s lives”. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that falsified signatures were present on an antigay petition now, would it?

The website includes references such as 21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters and The Argument for Preserving Marriage in a Nutshell (containing nuts. How appropriate…) Taking antacid pills, I gamely ventured onto the website and predictably found significant amounts of US Christian Right anti-SSM propaganda from individuals such as conservative Catholic Princeton University law professor Robert George, Heritage Foundation researcher Patrick Fagan, the Institute for American Values (whose founder David Blankenhorn now supports same-sex marriage), Stanley Kurtz (Weekly Standard tabloid), right-wing Murdoch columnist Miranda Devine and Australian Christian Right activist Bill Muehlenberg.

Oh, and David Blankenhorn. What?!!! Yes, apparently Bob is that much behind the times.

As for ‘resources’ , let’s look at them in closer detail. Predictably, the resources are also from the Heritage Foundation, Family Research Council and other international Christian Right organisations.¬† One ‘argument’ from the Irish Iona Institute is mere rhetoric, without links provided to any substantive research. Perhaps that was in Made for Children, an accompanying paper from the same Irish Christian Right organisation, so I ventured there. However, I didn’t find any substantive proof specifically targeting same-sex-led families as inferior or inadequate. Most of the research cited in that paper targeted solo parent-led families, as distinct from two-parent same-sex-led families, with quantitatively and qualitatively different results as a result. Sorry, folks- try again.

Again, most of the references in the National Marriage Coalition’s 21 Reasons Why Marriage Matters refer to straight relationships and virtually none reference same-sex couples or same-sex-led families.¬† As for the Center for American Values’ Revolution in Parenthood, I noted that its citation section primarily referred to secondary source media references and not primary research data from pediatrics and developmental psychology. Rebecca O’Neill’s the Institute for the Study of Civil Society paper Experiments in Living: The Fatherless Family (2002) made no specific references to LGBT-led families whatsoever. Writing for the UK Jubilee Centre, Drs John Hayward and Guy Brandon (Cohabitation in the 21st Century) again focused specifically on straight cohabitation, without reference to LGBT spousal relationships or LGBT-led families.¬† Again, I noted exactly the same phenomenon with the US Marriage and Religion Research Institute, a subsidiary of the US Christian Right’s Family Research Council- all of the cited research dealt with straight marriage or cohabitation, or straight solo parenting and none dealt with same-sex marriages or LGBT families. Peter Cook’s Mothering Denied (UK Christian Medical Fellowship) is an attack on straight childcare, not same-sex parenting.¬† David Popenoe and Barbara Whitehead’s Should We Live Together (US National Marriage Project) is a specific attack on heterosexual cohabitation, with no references to same-sex parenting or marriage. Robert Rector’s Marriage: America’s Greatest Weapon Against Poverty ( US Heritage Foundation) again deals specifically with heterosexual marriage against heterosexual solo parent-led families. Again, there is no mention whatsoever of specific research about same-sex marriage or parenting applicable to this argument.

I’m somewhat mystified as to why the material about polygamy was there at all- I think most of us would agree with the Christian Right (!!!) that heterosexual polygamy is profoundly harmful to women and children and should remain prohibited. I couldn’t consult the Witherspoon Institute paper (US Christian Right) as it couldn’t be found on its website, nor Glen Stanton’s US Focus on the Family report.

What about the ‘research’ that does deal with same-sex parenting and same-sex marriage? Altogether, there were only four papers available in their resource section that dealt with the question under scrutiny. Significantly, of these, two were from the antigay US Family Research Council and UK Christian Medical Fellowship. I will now deal with these in turn.

Well, Elizabeth Marquand’s One Parents or Five (Institute for American Values, 2005) problematically cites the work of University of Virginia demographer Steven Nock. Fine, but Nock’s qualifications are in demography and not in the directly applicable areas of pediatrics and developmental psychology, as New York University’s Judith Stacey pointed out in an amicus curiae submission to the Halperin marriage equality case in Canada back in 2005.

Peter Sprigg’s The Top Ten Harms of Same-Sex Marriage (US Family Research Council) contains some assertions that are inapplicable to our own domestic context. The Statutory References (Relationships) Act 2005 already equalised most spousal entitlements in the context of LGBT civil unions, while intermediate state school secondary students can already learn about same-sex relationships, form LGBT student groups or otherwise.

Moreover, Sprigg’s data ¬†claims about the reduced number, non-monogamous status and duration of straight marriages commit the fallacy of monocausality. Surely the availability of contraception, no-fault liberalised divorce, increased acceptability of straight cohabitation and solo parenting have far greater direct effects on the frequency, exclusivity and duration of straight marriages than mere introduction of same-sex marriage would have? Moreover, as most pediatricians and developmental psychologists would tell us, data from solo parenting contexts is inapplicable to dual parent same-sex parent relationships.

As for the old polygamy chestnut, South Africa is still the only nation that recognises both same-sex marriage and heterosexual polygamy, due to traditional African marital practises. As most societies that recognise straight polygamy are Muslim majority states, they usually criminalise homosexuality and in the cases of Northern Sudan, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Iran, prescribe the death penalty for gay sex or relationships. Then there’s Uganda, a current US Christian Right satellite whose proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill would put LGBT Ugandans to death- yet Uganda still practises straight polygamy!

¬†As I’ve previously reported, Hans-Christian Rabbe was expelled from the UK’s Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs due to his association with the ghastly “Gay Marriage and Homosexuality-Some Medical Facts” paper. There are some logical inconsistencies in this paper. If there are so few LGBT community members, then the government will encounter reduced costs in terms of expenditure on LGBT health and social services. There’s also the old chestnut about gay male non-monogamy, HIV and STIs- well, there’s a wide variation in our number and frequency of partners and research literature on HIV prevention largely deals with non-monogamous gay men, not specifically on those with fewer partners or exclusive relationships. In any case, lesbians are more monogamous than gay men. And how is anal sex related to any of this?! It’s like stigmatising heterosexuals on the basis of vaginal sex. Moreover, what about gay men like me who don’t engage in anal sex because we’ve never liked it relative to other forms of gay sex? There’s also the question of mental illness, attributable to our collective experience of intensive homophobia.

As for the pedophilia claims, the authors should be ashamed of themselves for privileging dated ¬†anecdotal claims about that when mainstream pediatricians and developmental psychologists tell us that most child sexual abuse is carried out by heterosexual men in the context of both incest and pedophile child sexual abuse of both sexes. Not to mention the endemic rates of Catholic clergy pedophilia and the likes of creatures like Graham Capill in New Zealand’s own context. Or doesn’t the sexual abuse of female children matter to these people?! Note Mark Pietrzyk’s evidence-based rebuttal of these disgusting claims below.

As for claims about the permanence of homosexuality, it has been widely reported that Robert Spitzer has retracted his earlier research claims about the alleged impermanence of sexual orientation. And again, Exodus Ministries is New Zealand’s only ‘exgay’ organisation and the Charities Commission retracted its charitable status last year.

Everything about this website screams shoddy rush job. Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Key now wholly supports same-sex marriage, according to 3 News and the New Zealand Herald.

Postscript: It now seems that the Family First and Protect Marriage sites have been attacked by hackers and have been taken down while migrating to another provider. I dislike cybervandalism and believe the best way to combat offensive discourse is with evidence-based affirmative discourse.¬† That said, I wasn’t particularly sorry to see the Denial of Service attack against Westboro Baptist/Fred Phelps in the United States.

 

Recommended:

3 News: http://www.3news.co.nz/Anti-gay-marriage-petition-launched/tabid/1607/articleID/263079/Default.aspx

Marriage Equality NZ: http://www.marriageequality.org.nz

¬†Michael Pietrzyk: “Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse: Science, Religion and the Slippery Slope”: http://www.internationalorder.org/scandal_response.html

Not Recommended:

Protect Marriage: http://www.protectmarriage.org.nz

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