The campaigns against marriage equality in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, and Washington are all running some variation on an ad featuring David and Tonia Parker, a Massachusetts couple who in 2005 objected to their kids learning in school that same-sex marriages existed. Conservatives regularly highlight David Parker as a victim to scare voters, but his story is told in incredibly misleading ways.
There is a big difference between mentioning that some kids — including students in the class — have same-sex parents and teaching about same-sex sexuality. The former is what happened in schools, but the latter is what the Parkers claim they objected to. In fact, David Parker so objected to the use of materials including all families that he appeared at the school to protest and refused to leave, forcing an arrest for trespassing. Parker then sued and a federal judge dismissed his complaint, saying that schools are “entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy.” Parker has since become an outspoken enemy of LGBT equality; Jeremy Hooper has a round-up of his various interviews, in which he calls homosexuality a disease, claims that gay people “use” and harm their children, and urges schools to promote harmful ex-gay therapy.
Parker responded to Hooper’s clips to make one clarification about whether homosexuality is a “disease,” choosing instead to describe it as an “addiction” that people are “drawn in” to:
PARKER: I could have been more clear about the “disease” correlation. If you really listen — I was led down this thought path unprepared — and went reluctantly and clumsily. Let me clarify — I believe that engaging in homosexual conduct becomes more addictive with practiced frequency until a person “feels” like that’s “who they are.” It shouldn’t be contriversial [sic] that a “sexual feeling” has a physiological addictiveness — when something “feels good” to a person — psychologically, they are compelled to do it more. I also believe that intense love for the same gender is NOT “homosexuality” — as is commonly understood. I also, VERY strongly believe that sexuality is fluid — especially when young. And, I do not look down on persons with same-sex attraction; my worldview informs me that ALL of humanity has urges and temptations — and the more you “give in” the more you are “drawn in.” I hope you except [sic] the authenticity to genuinely put forth my clarification, though, I know this is not an explanation that you will embrace.
David Parker does not have any known psychological qualifications to inform his positions, which is likely why his understanding of homosexuality in no way aligns with what all professional social science organizations have been saying for decades. Given that many consider addictions like alcoholism to be a disease, his clarification here is a distinction without a difference. He clearly sees gays and lesbians as disordered and troubled and not worthy of respect in society, which is why he has no problem serving as a spokesperson against equality at every opportunity.
Watch a mash-up of the Parkers’ ad as it’s running in all four state campaigns, with comparisons to fear-mongering ads of the past: