Tonight, CNN aired the second part of ‘The Sissy Boy Experiment,’ a series examining the effects of a government-funded gender-normalizing therapy on a 5-year old gay boy named Kirk Murphy in 1970. Kirk’s family believes that the dangerous therapy, which required Kirk’s father to beat him for displaying feminine behavior, contributed to Kirk’s suicide at the age of 38 and they blame George Rekers — the now disgraced co-founder of the Family Research Council who took part in Kirk’s treatment — for his death.
Watch as CNN confronts Rekers with the family’s allegation and his reaction to the news that Kirk had committed suicide:
REPORTER: They say the therapy you did as a child led to his suicide as an adult. what do you say about that?
REKERS: I didn’t know that. That’s too bad.
REPORTER: You’re not aware of the suicide?
REPORTER: What do you say if the family said that your therapy led to his suicide?
REKERS: Well, I think scientifically, that would be inaccurate to assume that it was the therapy. But I do grieve for the parents now that you’ve told me that news. I think that’s very sad.
Unfortunately, conservative Christian groups are still touting Rekers’ experiments as evidence that gay people can become straight. This weekend, the group Exodus International — the largest umbrella group for ex-gay ministries — is hosting a conference aimed at convincing young children and their families that they can reverse their sexual orientation. You can read Zack Ford’s takedown of the conference’s various workshops and panels here.
During an appearance on CNN this evening, GOP presidential candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) hinted that he would push for a federal constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage if he were elected president, arguing that gay or lesbian relationships could destabilize the culture, rob children “of the potential of having a mom and a dad,” and undermine religious liberties:
SANTORUM: Once people realize the consequence to society of changing this definition, it’s not that we’re against anybody. People can live the life they want to live. They can do whatever they want to do in the privacy of their home with respect to that activity. Now you’re talking about changing the laws of the country. and it could have a profound impact on society, on faith, on education. Once people realize that, they say, you know what, we respect people’s life to live the life they want to lead but don’t change how with that definition.
Santorum did not talk about what impact a federal ban would have on the same-sex couples and families currently residing in the five states (plus the District of Columbia) that extend gay and lesbian people all of the rights and obligations of marriage.
Target To Remain ‘Neutral’ On Minnesota’s Anti-Gay Amendment |
Target Chairman and CEO Gregg Steinhafel said the company will remain “neutral” on a constitutional amendment in Minnesota that seeks to ban same-sex marriages. “Our position at this particular time is, we are going to be neutral on this particular issue,” Steinhafel replied. He added, “When it comes to particularly sensitive issues, we’re going to continue to monitor and continue to assess.” Target has long had a good reputation in the LGBT community, but came under criticism last summer after it was discovered that it gave $150,000 to support anti-gay Republican candidate Tom Emmer in Minnesota.
Opponents of LGBT equality have claimed for years that they are the victims in the debate, suggesting that extending rights to gays and lesbians would infringe upon their “religious freedom” to discriminate against them. They also take umbrage at being called “haters” and “bigots.” Today, an AP article attempting to tell this story serves only to reinforce the absurd notion that there is any legitimacy to this self-victimizing rhetoric.
Rather than recognize the historic and systemic oppression and violence against the LGBT community, AP reporter David Crary instead gives multiple anti-LGBT groups (including several hate groups) a pedestal for propagating their lies. Here are the individuals Crary invited to whine that their bigotry is not well-received:
JIM CAMPBELL (Alliance Defense Fund): The ADF regularly spreads negative stereotypes about the LGBT community as part of their legal “defense” of Christian hegemony.
RICHARD BARNES (New York State Catholic Conference): The Catholic Conference has defended the vitriolic rhetoric of Sen. Rubén Díaz (D) and been a primary opponent of marriage equality in New York.
ALAN CHAMBERS (Exodus International): Exodus International is perhaps the most dangerous anti-gay propaganda machine, reinforcing the harmful junk science that same-sex orientations are disordered and can be changed.
ROBERT GEORGE (National Organization for Marriage): Crary neglects to even mention George’s connection to NOM, let alone that he is, in fact, its chairman and cofounder. NOM regularly reinforces the victim meme by distorting supposed “consequences” of LGBT equality. It’s no surprise George helped draft the Manhattan Declaration.
But is it the opponents of marriage equality who are fighting for legal protections against discrimination? Is it the conservative Christians who have an annual day of remembrance to mourn those who’ve been lost to violence? Is it heterosexuals who are disproportionately impacted by bullying related to sexual orientation?
No. If Crary wanted to tell the true story about how “some gay-rights foes claim they are now bullied,” he would have done better to point out that the claim is a farce.
The article this post refers to has been taken down. According to the editor, “This story was mistakenly published on Wednesday on burlingtonfreepress.com ahead of Sunday’s release date. We regret the error. Please check back on Sunday to read this story.
CNN’s 3-part feature this week addresses the harm and scientific inaccuracy of therapies that attempt to control an individual’s gender identity and sexuality, but this weekend, those ideas will be rehashed at the Exodus Freedom conference. Exodus International is the largest umbrella group for ex-gay ministries, including the infamous Love In Action ministry with its residential “ex-gay camp.” Couched entirely in Christian-based beliefs, these therapies have no reputable scientific support; major psychological and sociological organizations all reject them outright as harmful. Nevertheless, conference attendees will reinforce these bogus ideas over the next three days. Here is some of the junk science, mythology, stigma, and fear-mongering that will be promoted at Exodus Freedom:
WORKSHOP: “A Basic Understanding of Male Homosexuality: The media and others have misrepresented male homosexuality as a pre-determined, biological condition. This session examines the true nature of how male homosexuality develops and it outlines the family dynamics that can lead to the development of same-sex desires.”
REALITY: By “others,” speaker Ricky Chelette (a Baptist Minister) means “the entire field of mental health.” Science long ago concluded that sexual orientation is enduring and “a complex interaction of environmental, cognitive, and biological factors.” Proponents of ex-gay therapy often suggest that male homosexuality is somehow caused by smothering mothers, distant fathers, and not conforming to norms of masculinity. No research has ever confirmed any of these notions.
WORKSHOP: “Homosexuality: A Case of Mistaken Responses: This workshop serves to encourage those struggling with same-sex attraction and those who desire to encourage the strugglers. This session will present recent statistics regarding behaviors and discuss some of the baseline foundations of same-sex attraction and homosexuality from a Biblical view and offer practical steps for the daily victory.”
REALITY: The modern conception of sexual orientation only came about in the 20th century. While many have interpreted various passages in the Bible as judgments on same-sex behaviors, it offers no understanding whatsoever on same-sex attraction or identity as we understand it today. It’s also likely this workshop will cite risky behaviors (like drug use, suicide attempts) as being caused by a person’s sexuality as opposed to the stigma they experience for it.
New York Marriage Equality Push Intensifies |
Equality Matters’ Richard Socarides says there is reason to be optimistic about the prospect of achieving marriage equality in New York before the legislature adjourns on June 20. “Republican state senators are being lobbied hard to vote ‘yes,’ including by financial contributors and business leaders. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg are playing important roles. Gay rights groups have their act together this time and are mounting a coordinated effort both on TV and in the field,” he writes.
The Catholic Charities in three different Illinois dioceses are suing for an emergency exemption allowing them to discriminate against same-sex couples in their adoption and foster care services. Civil unions became legal in Illinois this month and two of the three that are suing — Peoria and Joliet — already suspended their services and a fourth, the Rockford diocese, shut down its services all together. At stake is whether the Catholic Charities have a protected right to discriminate because of their religious beliefs, but sexual orientation might not be the only concern.
The lawsuit included as an exhibit a March 8 letter from the Attorney General to the Springfield diocese, the third that is part of the suite. It showed that the AG’s office was already investigating the diocese for a number of forms of discrimination:
The office received notice that Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Springfield-in-Illinois (the “Organization”) discriminates against Illinois citizens based on race, marital states and sexual orientation in its provision of adoption and foster care services. Specifically, we understand that the Organization has requirements for potential foster or adoptive parents that are not required by Illinois law — for example, requirements about religious beliefs —or refuses to provide services to potential foster or adoptive parents in violation of Illinois law — for example, refuses to provide services based on the marital status or sexual orientation of a potential foster or adoptive parent.
The letter goes on to point out that “race, marital status, and sexual orientation” are all protected classes under the Illinois Human Rights Act when it comes to public accommodations. Each Catholic Charities receives large sums of state funds to provide their services. (When Rockford’s services shut down, they reported having to terminate $7.5 million in state contracts.)
Still, the three dioceses suing insist that they are legally justified to refuse child placement to single individuals and same-sex couples, and their defense is to use the children as an ultimatum. Steven Roach, executive director for the Springfield Diocese Charities, thinks: “It’s tragic that there are people who believe unnecessarily disrupting the lives of thousands of vulnerable children is an acceptable outcome in this situation.”
But who is threatening to disrupt services to children? Oh right, Catholic Charities.
Maine House Rejects Transphobic Bathroom Bill |
Maine’s House of Representatives has rejected a bill “that would have prevented transgender individuals from filing complaints against schools and other public institutions for restricting access to bathrooms and locker rooms.” Opponents of the measure said that the bill was discriminatory, “removed protections from a community often targeted or misunderstood for being different,” and was based on a fear of transgendered people.
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is a veritablelibraryofflip-flops. As such, it is not his positions but the fact that he has reversed on so many that is quickly defining his campaign. Last night on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, host Piers Morgan directly confronted Romney about a series of policy positions that he has slip-and-slided on over the years. First up, abortion. As Matt Yglesias noted this morning, despite a passionate pro-choice defense in 2002, Romney againasserted that he is now staunchly pro-life and defended his flip-flop by noting Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush flipped as well.
Next up, gay rights. Despite promising to be better on LGBT rights than Ted Kennedy, Romney’s LGBT record is questionable. When asked about his general position last night, Romney declared himself to be “in favor of gay rights” except when it comes to gay marriage. Romney conceded that “I read now and then that I’ve changed my mind on gay rights” but added that “it’s simply not true. I am in favor of gay rights, but I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.” When Morgan pointed out that it seems Romney is thus in favor of some gay rights (like employment non-discrimination) “but not all.” Romney said that his position has always remained the same and it is the LGBT community that changed its position on “what they wanted”:
MORGAN: When you say — if you don’t mind me saying — when you say I’m in favor of gay rights, you’re not. You’re in favor of some, but not all.
ROMNEY: What happened was that the –
MORGAN: Am I right?
ROMNEY: — the gay community — the gay community changed their perspective as to what they wanted. When I ran for governor, one of the big issues was marriage, gay marriage. My opponent said she’d sign a bill in favor of gay marriage. I said I would not, that I oppose same-sex marriage. At the same time, I would advance the — the, if you will, the efforts not to discriminate against people who are gay.
Setting aside Romney’s bizarre blame of the LGBT community for his own inconsistency, Morgan then asked whether Romney’s religion was at the core of his anti-gay marriage stance. When Romney refused to reveal the Morman position on homosexuality (“I am not a spokesman for my church”), Morgan asked whether Romney “personally” thinks “homosexuality is a sin.” Romney then completely shut down, offering only “nice try”:
MORGAN: Do you personally think homosexuality is a sin?
ROMNEY: Nice try, but I’m not going to get into –
MORGAN: That’s a valid question, isn’t it?
ROMNEY: It’s a valid question and my answer is nice try.
Romney is continually insisting that his opposition to same-sex marriage is not rooted in religion. Indeed, in this interview he stated, “You don’t begin to apply the doctrines of a religion to the responsibility for guiding a nation.” However, as TP LGBT editor Igor Volsky noted yesterday, Romney launched a religious defense of “traditional marriage” in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2004. Speaking against the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage, Romney said, “Are the philosophies and teachings of all the world’s major religions simply wrong? Or is it more likely that four people among the seven that sat in a court in Massachusetts have erred? I believe that is the case.”
Whatever his positions in the past may have been, it’s clear that Romney is committed to his newly found right-wing principles in order to pander to the conservative base and will likely hold those positions if elected. However, as Yglesias noted, if the right-wing conservatives are actually interested in the character of their candidate, they should take his entire career into account.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress LGBT spoke with former Bush campaign chief and RNC chair Ken Mehlman, who came out as gay last year, about his efforts to whip support for marriage equality in New York. Mehlman told us that Republicans he has spoken to have been “very thoughtful and carefully considering this issue” and said that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the measure passing before the legislature adjourns on June 20th. Below are excerpts from our interview:
Mehlman’s 30-second elevator pitch:
“I would argue that they should support it first because it’s consistent with the principles that we as Republicans believe, which include maximizing freedom, which include encouraging strong families, and which include following the golden rule and I would also encourage them to support it because their constituents support it…and that number is increasing exponentially with time and with demographic change.”
Making the case in “Republican terms”:
“We’re celebrating marriage. What we’re doing is, the marriage between a man and a woman doesn’t change. What we’re doing is we’re recognizing the wonderful civil relationship that exists between two people who commit to one another and want to spend their lives together and recognizing the stability that provides, the societal benefit that provides, recognizing the dignity it provides to the two people involved, and the benefit it provides to other families out to encourage us to provide it to other people.”
Has the gay wedge lost its edge in 2012?
“There is no question if you look at the data and you look at the data across the country and you look at the data by political affiliation, almost every measure you can look at indicates there is increased support for the right to marry and for gay rights generally. You certainly saw last year one out of five Republican senators support the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, so there are precedents for Republicans supporting efforts to ensure that there is equality and freedom, and I hope you see more of that going forward.”
Last week, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) compared marriage equality to polygamy, polyamory, incest, pedophilia, and 3-year-olds driving cars, saying, “Why not allow an uncle to marry his niece? Why not allow a 50-year-old man to marry a 12-year-old girl if they love each other and they’re committed?”
“I was saying that if you change the standard in the country to having marriage be, which is what they want, that just anybody that has a loving and committed relationship, then you set yourself on a slippery slope legally in courts to having other people come forward with similar arguments that would be objectionable to almost everyone,” she said. “So, that’s another reason why it makes sense to just keep the traditional definition of a man and a woman and that it’s my main point there is that it’s wide public policy.
“So, obviously those comments are just being misconstrued by those,” she said.
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but let us know what you’re checking out too.
- Last night, CNN aired the first part of an Anderson Cooper 360 special called “The Sissy Boy Experiment,” about a young man whose life was ruined by gender-norming therapy. Watch Part 1 here, and tune in tonight for Part 2. Make sure to also check out Jim Burroway’s extended investigations of the story at Box Turtle Bulletin.
- The White House has confirmed that it will again be holding a reception later this month to observe LGBT Pride. No details are available for what may come of the event. Might it be the perfect opportunity for President Obama to finally end his “evolution” toward supporting marriage equality? Or, like the recent White House website, will it just be another opportunity to boast about the administration’s past accomplishments?
- We reported yesterday about a correctional officer who was prepared to take legal action because he was forbidden from marching in the West Hollywood Pride Parade in uniform. The Department of Corrections has reversed its decision, and Andrew Johnson will now be welcome to march.
- With only two weeks left in the legislative session, the pressure is on New York to pass marriage equality. The latest advocate is Tom Richards, the mayor of Rochester.
- A survey in Australia shows that 75 percent of Australians think marriage equality is inevitable. Support for marriage equality there was as high as 62 percent in 2010, much higher than the slim majority now seen in U.S. polls.
- Right-wing loon Ann Coulter appeared on Piers Morgan last night and was quite nonplussed when he asked her how she would feel if one of her children turned out to be gay. Watch her reaction (via Towleroad):