As the Supreme Court prepares to take up the issue of same-sex marriage for perhaps the last time, opponents are scrambling to make their final stand against marriage equality in the public square. This month, they are rallying behind four individuals who had a gay parent but who argue against marriage equality. Called the “quartet of truth” and heralded by anti-LGBT groups like the Family Research Council, these adults spin a tale of trauma that they claim is representative of all children of same-sex couples.
All four are in the spotlight now for their amicus briefs urging federal courts to uphold state bans on same-sex marriage. In these briefs, they explain how having a gay parent scarred them for life. They missed out on a “vital dual-gender influence,” they argue, and allowing same-sex marriage will similarly harm other children because “the gay community” doesn’t put children first, instead using them as “props to be publicly displayed.” In turn, “children lose forever their rights to know and be raised by their married biological father and mother.”
In addition to their briefs — which they are expected to replicate for consideration by the Supreme Court — their own additional writing is attracting a lot of attention. One of the four, Katy Faust, published a piece at conservative outlet Public Discourse this week asking the Supreme Court to consider her experience. It has been shared about 150,000 times and even crashed the site due to its traffic. Brittany Newmark Klein, writing under a pen-name, followed suit at The Federalist.
If the various outlets promoting the “quartet” are any indication, marriage equality opponents seem to be enthused by the idea that having a gay parent makes these stories more compelling. Each of the four, however, has a reputation that belies the LGBT-friendly facade of their connection to a gay parent. Klein uses multiple pseudonyms, including B.N. Klein, B.A. Newmark, and Rivka Edelman, to publish attacks on the LGBT community, particularly viciously anti-transgender rhetoric. Katy Faust runs a blog called, “AskTheBigot,” where she openly identifies as an evangelical Christian and espouses that “True Christianity” will “oppose the narrative that homosexuality is a ‘positive and normal’ variation of human sexuality.” Dawn Stefanowicz has happily shopped her story to anti-gay hate groups leaders like Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber. And Robert Oscar Lopez, who identifies as bi but has disowned his same-sex attractions, regularly compares same-sex adoption to slave ownership and cultural genocide. In fact, all four indicate that their negative ideas about homosexuality presuppose their experience having a gay parent, and in some cases, the very reason they felt traumatized by having a gay parent was the idea that they would have to accept it.
The “quartet” also makes arguments that catch many other families in the crossfire with same-sex couples. For example, Stefanowicz claims that “children do best when they are raised by their married, biological mother and father.” By specifying “biological,” she is simultaneously making the case against all forms of adoption and foster care. Klein goes so far as to talk about couples who can’t have their own children as engaging in “human trafficking,” and in a strange twist on opposing a woman’s choice, chastises women interested in serving as surrogates as “breeding stock.” Lopez regularly compares adoptive parents to slaveowners and their children to “chattel,” describing any parenting that deprives children of one of their biological parents as “child abuse.” Nevertheless, opponents of marriage equality are not actively trying to ban divorce, adoption, or foster care, nor are they trying to force widows and widowers to remarry. They are only targeting same-sex marriage.
All four also tell stories of parents who divorced or separated — a parent entered a different-sex relationship, had children, then later began having same-sex relationships. Though some of them were raised for some period of time by a same-sex couple, it was only after the trauma of their birth parents’ separation. This is an identical tactic as was used in the widely-debunked study conducted by Mark Regnerus, which claimed to demonstrate inferior results for same-sex parenting by using the experiences of kids from split parents to implicate committed same-sex couples raising children together. Some of their stories also prey on anti-gay stereotypes because of experiences of physical and sexual abuse from their gay parent. In reality, because same-sex families are more likely to be planned, studies suggest those couples are actually less likely to abuse their children.
Lopez claims to be cataloging more stories from similar bitter children of a gay parent, but he reports that many “do not want to reveal their names or even have their stories recorded” because they fear backlash from LGBT activists. While he may know of “dozens,” there are thousands of children who are quite openly telling of their positive experiences with LGBT parents. The organization COLAGE is helping network children across the country with LGBT parents to “nurture and empower each other.” In 2013, the Family Equality Council launched “The Outspoken Generation” project, inviting these children to be loud and proud about their families. Compared to just a handful of bitter adults, literally hundreds of their stories have been incorporated into amicus briefs in court cases supporting marriage equality. Hear some of their stories:
These kids are leading normal childhoods, burdened only by the anti-LGBT shame and stigma that their families face. It’s the very same shame and stigma that adults like Lopez, Klein, Stefanowicz, Faust, and their ilk are promoting with their stories when adoption isn’t even a matter the courts before the courts.