“Family Rights” Frame Disguises Right Wing Propaganda


Last month’s United Nations High Level Meeting on AIDS drew government officials and members of
civil society from around the world to UN headquarters. During the meeting, individuals came together and caucused around
particular issue areas, including the seemingly-innocuous concept of "family rights," at the Family Rights Caucus. But "family rights" is often a blind used to usher
in a host of right wing biases.

This caucus was convened by the
Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), Family Watch
International (FWI), National Association for Research and Therapy of
Homosexuality (NARTH) and Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality
(JONAH). Lynn Allred, Communications
Director for Family Watch International, framed the purpose of the
discussion in her opening statements: to uphold religious freedom and parental
rights and to defend the beliefs that marriage can only exist between a man and a
woman and that "the family is the foundational unit of society." After Allred’s introduction, we knew
what was in store: good old-fashioned
right wing propaganda. But the Right
has learned a thing or two in recent years that has greatly influenced their
advocacy approach. Old-fashioned propaganda comes with a very new spin.

First, the Right has learned the importance of
tailoring messages to a specific audience. Sensationalized defamation and
name-calling may play well when preaching to supporters, but doing so in a
setting such as the High Level Meeting undermines their legitimacy. Using human rights language and
creating arguments which can stand up to some logical inquiry, however, is less
likely to alienate those who find sensational rhetoric
offensive or unreasonable. When Sharon
Slater, President of Family Watch International asked, "Is stigmatizing high
risk behavior the same as stigmatizing an individual with HIV?" this was not an
innocent question, but a careful calculation on how to undermine sexual rights
while seeming to appear fair-minded.

Later in the discussion, Slater told the audience that
she has a very good friend who smokes and that she frequently talks to this
friend about how she can get help. She stressed that in these conversations, she
addressed the behavior not the
individual. This is classic homosexual
conversion rhetoric, which came as no surprise given the presence of Arthur A.
Goldberg, Board member of NARTH, Co-Director of JONAH, and President of
Positive Alternatives to Homosexuality (PATH).
He argued that many people experience unwanted same-sex attraction for which treatment is available,
stressing that the focus is on the rooting out the behavior and not attacking
the person. I was unconvinced. He
followed this statement with a discussion of a scientific study conducted by
homosexual researchers (he made sure we took note of this fact) that
demonstrated that no homosexual relationship is 100% monogamous. Goldberg argued that the conclusion to take
away from this study was that all homosexual relationships were promiscuous and high risk. He emphasized
the fact that these researchers were homosexuals
who conducted this study of their own
people
so they had no ulterior motive. He concluded that "we’re not promoting religious values — we’re staying in the secular, scientific
and evidence based." Can those of us
advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights can count that as a
win — that the "evidence-based" argument has been so
successful that it has been co-opted by the right? It’s a bittersweet victory.

Another key lesson learned by right-wing advocates is to
have a seat at the table, or at least close to the table. The mandates of organizations like C-FAM and
Family Watch International include participating in proceedings and meetings at the
international level. C-FAM’s mission is “[t]o defend life and family at international institutions and to
publicize the debate,” carried out through their
vision, which is
[t]he preservation of international law by discrediting
socially radical policies at the United Nations and other international
institutions.”

Austin Ruse, President and Founder of C-FAM had this to say
at the 1999 World Congress of Families meeting in Geneva:

We have arrived at a perilous moment in the life of the
family. Long under attack by her enemies, the family seems now to be
disintegrating all around us. In every country of the developed world, families
are breaking up under a plethora of pernicious pathologies. The roots of the
attack, and their result are easily enumerated by most of the current social
science data. But I will focus on one institution
with which I am most familiar, the United Nations, an institution that is
increasingly at the forefront of the attack on the family.

Piero A. Tozzi, Executive Vice President and General Counsel
of C-FAM, stated in the caucus meeting that organizations like C-FAM are
present to support countries who believe that families play an important role in
society. They do so by convening small, closed meetings with country delegates
as well as calling open meetings such as the Family Rights Caucus which can draw
anyone present. In the June 25 edition of the Family
Watch International newsletter
, Slater reported that "caucus meeting allowed [them] to identify new allies in
several countries, including an official UN delegate representing Kenya, who pleaded with [them] to come to Kenya as soon
as possible to launch an African movement for the family." Their successes come
not only in influencing language and content of negotiated documents, but in
the relationships forged to further spread their messages. The organizations
represented in this caucus meeting are increasingly committed to their mission
of engaging in international advocacy. It will serve us well to continue
to keep watch on where they go and how they get there.

In recent years there has been a proliferation of
organizations—both in the United States and around the globe—that
exist to limit individuals’ access to sexual and reproductive health
information, education, and services. SIECUS believes that it is vital
for advocates of sexual health and reproductive rights (SRHR) to stay
up-to-date on the goals, thoughts, and activities of these organizations.
To help advocates around the world, we monitor right-wing
organizations and news sources and compile a digest of their articles on topics
such as abortion, family planning, sexuality education, and sexual orientation
each month. If you are interested in subscribing to our International
Right Wing Watch
please fill out this form.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

  • invalid-0

    He followed this statement with a discussion of a scientific study conducted by homosexual researchers (he made sure we took note of this fact) that demonstrated that no homosexual relationship is 100% monogamous.

    I a so tired of hearing people completely fabricate a study or discuss studies that conveniently suit their agenda without citation. To state that no homosexual relationship is 100% monogamous is completely ridiculous. This is a lie.

    Reminds me of Sally Kern, the bigot representative from Oklahoma, when she said “Studies show, no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted for more than, you know, a few decades. . .”

    People should not be allowed to just make stuff up like this without being challenged!!

  • http://www.c-fam.org invalid-0

    I think it is rather amusing that you say the idea that the family is the “foundational unit of society” is “good old-fashioned right wing propaganda”. This notion of the family comes directly from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • scott-swenson

    Austin,

    Thanks for dropping by to comment, always nice to have you here. In fact Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does say,

    1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion,
      have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to
      marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending
      spouses.
    3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to
      protection by society and the State.

    And since you got all the way to Article 16, I assume you also read and believe in Article 1, which states,

    All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
    reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

    And Article 2, which reads,

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration,
    without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political
    or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

     

    Clearly, we all are born into families of some sort, even if it is simply mother and child. And just as clearly, given our individual dignity, free-will and universal human rights, many of us choose to create families of our own.

     

    Austin, the issue has never been that progressives are anti-family as you would like people to believe. Quite the contrary, it is that we recognize family in all its diversity, celebrate and honor it and work to protect it from people who would, by denying Articles 1 and 2, limit people’s ability to be free, respected and part of families that might simply look different from yours.

     

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Ariana,

    How did you come up with your inference in your post that our organization, Family Watch International would in any way condone or engage in “name-calling” or “sensationalized defamation” of homosexuals? Your assumption could not be further from the truth and is a common tactic of someone who does not have the facts to back up their position ie attack the messenger instead of confronting the message.

    You stated you remained “unconvinced” but cited no reason or data for your position.

    Our position is based on undisputed science, that male homosexual sex is a high risk behavior that spreads HIV at higher rates than any other sexual activity.

    The compassionate response if we care about homosexuals, however, is to help them reduce their high risk behavior by taking away the stigma of discussing it openly and honestly and by making treatment for “unwanted” same-sex attraction widely available.

    You also took my colleagues remarks out of context. Here is the scientific data he referred to in his comments. If you can refute this data with evidence rather than opinion I would like to see it.

    David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison, (themselves a homosexual male couple, one a psychiatrist, the other a psychologist) wrote a classic study called, The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop, Prentice Hall (1984) questioned the premise that gay male relationships are promiscuous and transient. They therefore surveyed 156 male couples in relationships that had lasted from 1 to 37 years. The results? Only one half of one percent of the sample group (seven couples) maintained sexual fidelity but NONE of these seven couples were together for longer than five years.

    The average period of sexual fidelity was between one and two years. Because the researchers were unable to find a single male couple that had actually maintained sexual fidelity for more than five years, McWhirter and Mattison conceded, “The expectation for outside activity was the rule for male couples and the exception for heterosexuals. Heterosexual couples lived with the expectation that their relationships would last ‘until death do us part,’ whereas gay couples wonder if their relationships would survive.” (p.3).

    In their summary of the study (on p. 285) they conclude, “The majority of couples in our study, and all of the couples together for longer than five years, were not continuously sexually exclusive with each other. Although many had long periods of sexual exclusivity, it was not the ongoing expectation for most. We found that gay men expect mutual emotional dependability with their partners and that relationship fidelity transcends concerns about sexuality and exclusivity.”

    In other words, so-called emotional monogamy transcends sexual monogamy.

    FYI, they worked on the project for eight years (p. 294.)

    If we really care about homosexuals we will all work together to help them reduce the rates of HIV infection by helping them reduce or better yet, eliminate their high risk behavior. That way we may even be able to save their lives. This is a responsible position.

    I look forward to your comments.

    Sharon Slater

  • harry834

    "help them reduce their high risk behavior by taking away the stigma of
    discussing it openly and honestly and by making treatment for
    "unwanted" same-sex attraction widely available."

    Better yet, let’s give gay people the power that we straight people deserve: the knowledge, condoms, dental dams, and – someday – microbicides to live the lives they feel inclined to live, with safer practices. In other words, stop implying that they emotions and feelings are a disease. They are not.

    STDs are a disease, and even if I accept that gay male sex might have higher statistical risk, that still leaves very risk for straight couples, and – in many regards – lower risk for lesbian couples.

    The right thing to do is to give tools and practices to live their lives safer. The wrong thing to do is to try to eliminate their thoughts and feelings so they will not want to live live their lives.

    And even if, you are not explicitly calling them "sick" or you are only talking about your therapy for the "willing", you are giving false information, so the "willing participants" are doing it out of false information masqerading as scientific health advice.

    Yes STDs are caused by risky sex behavior, and very possibly gay-anal sex is riskier than other forms. BUT the anti-dote for society that wants to remain free is providing latex barriers, education on how to use them ,education on how to talk with your sexual partner. It is not a humane OR necessary prescription to advise people to dismantle their normal thoughts and feelings.

    Check out the testimonies of ex-gay survivors to see what damage this thought-modification-therapy does

    I know we can never read the mind of every ex-gay that claims "success", but there is enough counter-evidence out there to give us pause and doubt that are based on facts, not fear.

     

  • invalid-0

    I am impressed that Ariana admits that the comments by Arthur Goldberg, the speaker she reports spoke about gay coupling at the UN, set forth “evidence-based” information but then laments how it’s a bittersweet victory. This is puzzling. Clearly the factual and scientific evidence is what should drive this debate and, unfortunately, it appears as if the so-called liberal left has tried to monopolize claims to factual accuracy when indeed it has generally sprewed forth inaccurate data.

    Please note that to dispute Ariana’s admission that Goldberg’s comments and the study he cited is evidence based, the first comment to the column (entitled “No relationships…. Really!?!?!!”)argues that the cited study was “completely fabricated.” Such a statement is of course the classic strategy when one attempts to denigrate something entirely factual and true and for which no substantive defense is available. There is no factual defense to Goldberg’s statements as the fourth comment makes clear–the one by Sharon Slater (#4 entitled Family Rights Caucus.) Her impressive commentary is very straight forward and unequivocal in summarizing what the study says. FYI, there are innumerable other studies to the same effect.

  • http://www.c-fam.org invalid-0

    There is nothing in the proceedings of the drafting of the Universal Declaration that shows that the drafters intended that the sections you refer to would in any way condone homosexual couplings. Moreover, no intergovernmentally negotiated document of the United Nations ever changed that understanding. We choose to stand with the drafters of the Universal Declaration and with the succeeding General Assemblies in that view. We all must be little more than “right wingers.”

    By the way, I would appreciate it if you could clean up my bio on your site. I would be happy to sit for an interview in order to do it.

  • harry834

    that gay male anal sex might be riskier than other forms of sex. I dispute whether the suppression of thoughts and emotions – which is what ex-gay therapy advocates – is the right anti-dote to the risks of sexual behavior.

    It seems the answer is to change the behavior, NOT eliminate it entirely, just practice it differently. And stop asking for suppression of emotions and attraction feelings

    Our minds are not screens to be erased by other people with "alternative views". Keep your diagnosis off of people’s heads. Your not qualified to decide who’s sick-minded and who isn’t.

  • harry834

    that says that homosexuality is supposed to be suppressed or outlawed. Lawmakers and societies decided on their own to outlaw or attack homosexuality. The Universal Declaration does not back you up.

    Try again, Austin.

  • harry834

    can be located if you scroll down here

    And if you feel inclined to tell me "don’t believe everything advocates say", you should take that advice to heart concerning those who advocate for ex-gay therapy, which includes many of those individuals who tortured and suppressed their feelings to achieve the ex-gay "love". 

    It is because they advocate for modifying the brains of others – including the unwilling children of scared-by-gays parents – that we cannot simply "leave the ex-gays alone". We MUST question their conversions, and dig, dig, dig into their private sexual lives,

     

    because they are using their "experience" to advocate for controlling OUR private sexual lives. For encouraging uninformed parents to fear the worst and push, pressure, and harass us – in the false name of "tough love" – into these sick, mind-control programs.

    We will NEVER stop digging into the private lives of ex-gays, because they use these "lives" to justify their advocacy for these mind controlling programs.

    They brought our wrath on themselves, for every false fear they have ever infected our vulnerable with.

    Thank god I’m a confident person. A person with less confidence is the prey to these psychological predators. The false-horrors these ex-gays spread are a nightmare on our psyches.

    And your spreading the message…

  • http://www.c-fam.org invalid-0

    The assertion is that the Universal Declaration supports homosexual couplings. The onus is on those who support this notion to prove it. Of course, the Declaration does no such thing and no further action of the GA does either. It has been tried repeatedly to include this kind of thing in UN documents and it has repeatedly failed. Various “committees of experts” have made such assertions but NO INTERGOVERNMENTAL BODY OF THE UN has ever agreed.

  • scott-swenson

    Sharon,
    I’m certain Ariana will reply, but thought I might direct you to the very same study you quote so often above, and clearly put a great deal of authority into. You see, we also understand that, as you said above, "Your (meaning you Sharon) assumption(s) could not be further from the truth and is (are) a common tactic of someone who does not have the facts to back up their position ie attack the messenger instead of confronting the message."

     

    In this case, you attack homosexuals by suggesting that because they are different from what you believe is healthy, they are wrong. But the very authors that you — and TONS OF OTHER FAR-RIGHT FOLK like to SELECTIVELY QUOTE — said this, on page ix, that’s in the introduction, the very first page of the book, which you must have skipped over to get to the "good parts":

    We always have been careful to explain that the very nature of our research sample, its size (156 couples), its narrow geographic location, and the natural selectiveness of the participants PREVENT THE FINDINGS FROM BEING APPLICABLE AND GENERALIZABLE TO THE ENTIRE GAY MALE COMMUNITY (Emphatic emphasis mine). Strictly speaking, the sample is neither large enough, randomly selected or geographically dispersed enough to represent necessarily the majority of male couples. As behavioioral scientists we cannot report our conclusions as being derived from a representative sample.

     

    The authors go on to say that in their travels and public speaking they find supporting evidence, otherwise known as more self-selection, people who read and saw themselves in the book showed up for lectures and book signings. Shocking.

     

    More importantly, the book, is about how male couples develop, various stages and guides that can be used by a couple to help them build stronger bonds, based on what is being learned from their admittedly limited field of study. It is an attempt to honor and strengthen gay male couples, something you clearly do not agree with.

     

    This may come as a shock to you Sharon, but because gay people have been stigmatized, forced underground, beaten, murdered, brutalized, excommunicated and thrown out of their homes by parents and family members — in large measure because of "concerned and compassionate" people creating a society that allowed such behavior to exist, it hasn’t always been easy for homosexuals to meet, date and form lasting relationships.

     

    But against great odds, many have. I wonder, is it harder for heterosexuals to find love when everything since birth has told them what is good, right and natural, and the entire dating ritual and expectations of friends, faith and family are geared toward heterosexual marriage; or is it harder if in your soul you feel different from all the societal messages, but you continue seeking love and partnership, because that’s what comes naturally, despite what others think. What do you think Sharon? If gay people find love, against all odds, does that make it more special than something that is simply expected?

     

    Since you cite evidence from a study which the authors acknowledge is self-selected and unscientific, I’ll share one story of my own. At a church I used to attend, every Sunday for many years, amidst the kids and the families who’d been going there for many generations, sat a older male couple. They met in World War II, both serving the country they loved. They were together for more than 50 years and were neighbors of Mary Matlin and James Carville. Ms Matlin spoke of them with Tim Russert on Meet the Press one Christmas while her children played on her lap, right before Tim Russert gave them a purple Teletubbie — you know, the one Rev. Jerry Falwell said was gay. Ms Matlin was commenting on how beloved the couple was, like family to the children, and talking about the need for the GOP to get over its political gay-bashing before it was too late. Um, guess what Sharon, times up. The next generation, even Catholics and Evangelicals, love their gay friends or are glad to be able to come out and find supportive friends and family.

     

    Sharon, the way to care for and have compassion for gay people is to honor and respect the way God made them. Allow their adolescent years to happen when adolescence is supposed to, high school, without stigma, shame or denial. The way to foster stronger healthier realtionships is to encourage coupling, even marriage if two people choose.

     

    Your faux compassion, if you can call wanting to "change them" compassion, doesn’t fool anyone, no matter how many page numbers you cram into your post.

     

    As for healthy behaviors and HIV, there is ample evidence on this website that women, in marriages, are at a far greater risk and need tools like family planning and contraception, especially in places where women cannot negotiate sexual relationships, places where girls are "married" at the age of 14 or even younger, places where patriarchy and machismo are celebrated, encouraged, dare I say, ordained.

     

    The only reason the world has made any progress against HIV/AIDS is because when it first happened the gay community rallied to care for its own when no one else would. For 25 years the pandemic spread waiting for people of the sort of compassion you offer to offer something other than stigma and shame and denial. Public health experts and millions of others marched, and screamed and begged for people to pay attention to what was happening, to the reality of the disease and its likely spread. But for most of that time, political games and manipulations like that which you offer above, have been the only response. It is happening right now, again, as Congress debates PEPFAR reauthorization. And so cite your selective passages, manipulate the information, and pretend to have compassion, Sharon. The rest of us are moving forward with a vision of the world that is inclusive, and healing and based on reality, not misinformation, not politicized-ideology, not faux-compassion.

    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • scott-swenson

    Austin,

    Thanks for offering to sit for an interview, again. I’m sure we’ll get around to it one day. We’re still busy cleaning up after all the misinformation your side puts out. Send me your current bio through the contact us page on the site and we’ll happily update it — we do operate in facts here, so if we’ve got something wrong in your bio, we’d love to correct it.


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • scott-swenson

    Austin,

    I’ll stick by Articles 1 and 2, just as I abide by “love thy neighbor as thyself” …. God knows there have been lots of councils, committees, misinterpretations and wars since those words were spoken, but the inherent value of every living, breathing human being, created (for those who believe) by God, is what matters.

    No clauses, no exclusions, no exceptions. Argue the fine points, you know who you’ll find in the details.


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Sharon, I was at the “Family Rights Caucus” meeting as well and I can confirm that Ariana’s characterization of your comments and the meeting as a whole is entirely accurate. If anything, she was a bit too diplomatic.

    The overriding messages of your panel were:

    (1) increasing the social stigma attached to high risk sexual behavior is necessary for stopping the spread of HIV;

    (2) all homosexuals engage in high risk sexual behavior, and apparently all high risk sexual behavior stems from homosexuals (you weren’t talking about heterosexuals); therefore…

    (3) we should increase the stigma on homosexuality in the interest of preventing AIDS and improving public health.

    I remember quite clearly that one panelist – Mr. Goldberg, I believe – cited a “positive environment” as one factor that influences boys to become homosexual. A positive environment was described as one in which homosexuality is accepted and celebrated. The implication is that by stigmatizing rather than celebrating homosexuality, we can prevent boys from growing up to be homosexuals who necessarily engage in high risk sexual behaviors, thereby spreading HIV.

    Regarding your feeble attempt to argue that stigmatizing an act doesn’t place stigma on the actor, think about it: if the person committing the stigmatized act didn’t fear the effect of stigmatization, why would the person be moved to change his behavior?

    If your focus had been on educating the public about the dangers of unprotected sex, you would have found many allies. But it wasn’t. Instead you attempted a rhetorical bait and switch: draw in people who have a genuine concern about the spread of HIV, and channel it into a witch hunt against gay men.

    I will also note that there were no copies of scientific studies or any other background material at the meeting. Attendees were provided no evidence of the “evidence” to which you all referred.

    At the very least, could you stop talking about “homosexuals” when you really mean gay men? I can’t see how stigmatizing lesbianism figures into any of this. Using your logic, lesbians would be the least likely people to engage in the high risk behavior you describe; in fact, I should think promoting lesbianism would be a strategy you’d readily adopt.

  • ariana-childs-graham

    Sharon,

     

    I wholeheartedly endorse Scott Swenson’s earlier response and thank him for weighing in and clarifying the full conclusion and context of the study by McWhirter and Mattison- I think he addresses any concerns and questions you might have in that regard. 

     

    In regards to the question about Family Watch International’s tactics of name-calling and defamation, my characterization that your organization uses dehumanizing rhetoric regarding those whom you deem to be morally inferior or a threat to your notion of a family was less an inference and more a clear conclusion. I arrived at this assessment after reading newsletters and other postings on the Family Watch International website as well as the section of your book, The Worldwide Assault on the Family: Exposed, that you are soon to publish.

     

    I’ll highlight a few sections from the excerpt of The Worldwide Assault that I think illustrate well how you express your disdain for those who don’t conform to heteronormative standards. You introduce the Yogyakarta Principles, a document developed by human rights experts on the application of international human rights law regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, as “just a poorly disguised wish list for homosexuals and those seeking legal and societal endorsement of their promiscuous lifestyles.”  Not only does the characterization not hold water, I question your purported respect forhomosexuals when you make blanket generalization of homosexuals as “promiscuous” and their implied inferiority.

     

    Later in the excerpt you rejoice that “the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that the scout organization can in fact prohibit openly homosexual men from serving as scoutmasters.  Thank goodness for good judges!”  I would not call openly applauding a discriminatory ruling a strong sign of compassion and acceptance.  And this piece I think speaks for itself:  “In summary, what the Yogyakarta folks are after is nothing less than total governmental and societal recognition, respect, endorsement and promotion of any kind of sexual behavior, no matter how bizarre, unhealthy, or perverse.”  “Bizarre, unhealthy, or perverse”- this somehow does not have a very compassionate ring either.

     

    I was horrified as well by the way that Lynn Allred, FWI’s Communications Director, described a transgender participant at the High Level Meeting in her recent contribution to the “Have We Gone MAD?” segment of FWI’s newsletter: “He was one of many transsexuals/transgenders, sex workers (for the unenlightened,those are prostitutes) and IV drug users in attendance demanding the human right to engage in whatever the heck behaviors they wanted to regardless of the consequences to themselves or to society… The man in the sari was there as an official member of the Civil Society Task Force, established at the request ofthe UN General Assembly.  Frightening.” This individual, who apparently does not conform to the same gender standards that Ms. Allred subscribes to, is certainly still worthy of having her dignity and inherent worth upheld- isn’t she?  What was so very frightening about this individual having made the commitment to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and participate in this meeting as a member of the Civil Society Task Force?  The claim to compassion seems to be losing it’s weight more and more.

     

    I’ve chosen to cite just a few examples related to your work and that of Family Watch International, although the conclusion was based on research of a much broader range of organizations.  I figured I would not crowd the page with innumerable references from so many of your colleague organizations that illustrate the same point. Incorporating human rights language into an advocacy strategy as was done in the Family Rights Caucus at the High Level Meeting, is appealing for the righteousness and seeming invincibility they afford.  The problem, however, with using human rights language and frameworks is that you actually have to believe in them-the words mean nothing if the substance is not there to back them up. In the end infusing human rights into our world boils down to hard work- it means embracing ideas and people that you may not always understand or agree with and putting in the effort to ensure that all are able to fully realize who they are and thrive, it means ensuring equality and non-discrimination, and it means to do no harm unto others.  I just don’t think you’re there yet.

     

    Thanks for weighing in on the discussion.

     

    Regards,

    Ariana

  • invalid-0

    I am indifferent whether your bio for me is accurate. I just think it is kind of funny that it is not, given that you — what? — “operate in facts here” and also that i brought it up a long time ago. Oh, well, were deal in facts here!

    It is also kind of funny that you don’t care what the nations of the world and the General Assembly has repeatedly decided. Sounds kind of anti-UN to me! (:o)

  • scott-swenson

    Austin,

    I never said I didn’t care what the General Assembly or anyone else says. It is a political body, subject to manipulations, and misinformation, and thankfully, evolving progressive thought as old generations and ways pass by and new ideas and generations emerge. It is you who is making the stink about the UN and its debates, most people aren’t waiting for the UN, the Congress or any other political body to sanction their right to dignity, or love — we’re enjoying it, celebrating it and working to secure it for others. Like the promises enshrined in America’s founding documents, we make progress every day to fulfill them. It is a process, some might suggest as JFK did, that “on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.” So we keep working, making progress, turning back the old ways, tired, burdened with the guilt of misogyny, racism, and now homophobia, and we forgive, securing a better world than the one we inherited.

    I raised Articles 1 and 2 simply to remind readers that the declaration recognizes every person, without the exceptions and exclusions you fight so hard for.

    No, most of us continue making progress toward a world that honors the inclusive nature of the “love thy neighbor” and marvel at the many diverse ways love and life and faith express itself. The UN has its place, politics has its place, but Austin, most of us are simply enjoying the fact we can be who we are, openly, honestly and in doing so, help others see through the lies you and others promote.


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • http://www.c-fam.org invalid-0

    But, the only place you make advances with your “progressive” agenda, what we and every previous generation would call radical, is through not the democratic process but the anti-democratic process. Whereever your homosexual agenda has made advances here in teh US is not through Legilatures or public referenda, in fact you lose these overwhelmingly, but through the courts. And whereever you have “made progress” at the internaional level has likewise been made not through even vaguely democratic bodies like the GA but through non-democratic manipulations of folks like Mary Robinson.

    It is also sad that you also consider those who oppose your agenda as bigots of in need of psychological counseling. That is name-calling of a very high order adn is not helpful.

    At teh end of the day is it right for a tiny minority (less than 1% given that not all homosexuals support overturning the family), to propose changing the definition of marriage and the family for the rest of us? Most would say no and elections bear that out. Moreover, social science data is now overwhelming that children need both a mother and a father, something that neither homosexual or lesbian couples can provide. The data from the divorce culture has borne this out profoundly. What you are proposing is yet another social experiment on children for the pleasure of adults. The data from the divorce culture shows how this will end.

    This debate at its heart is not about what you do behind closed doors or wherever, but what is best for children.

  • scott-swenson

    If anyone can tie what the aptly named Mr. Ruse is talking about to anything I’ve said, please chime in. I’ve advanced a "radical" idea that we should "love thy neighbor" and that every person has dignity and should have equality. I’ve advocated for family, families that embrace their gay and lesbian children instead of shunning them; families that are based on love chosen, not property rights; families that treat women with respect. I’m still waiting for someone to send me my copy of the gay agenda, I’ve been gay 45 years and haven’t found a group of gay people larger than four that can agree on where to go to dinner, let alone a plot to destroy the family and take over the world.

     

    The victory that I speak of Mr. Ruse, is not one of legalisms, be they won in courts, city hall, state legislatures, Congress or anywhere else — the victory I speak of is the one you so clearly have lost, hence the venom and desperate attempts to distract, misinform and deceive. It is a victory of hearts and minds. It is the victory every time a parent accepts their gay child instead of rejecting them, a victory every time another person finds the courage to be true to themselves as opposed to accepting the shame and stigma you and others heap on, a victory when young Evangelicals, Catholics, Muslims, and every other faith say they no longer accept the political agenda of their parents while still adhering to their faith because they understand the world differently and are working to correct the mistakes of the past.

     

    These are the same "radical" ideas that over time saw women voting, slaves freed, voting rights restored, civil rights won — the reason that through much of our history America has been a beacon to the world, and will be again on January 20, 2009 when Bush leaves office. We’ve got a long way to go, to fulfill the promise of America and correct imbalances in the world, but is there anyone that really thinks what is happening politically right now is about going backwards — regardless of who you support for President. Even you Mr. Ruse, must realize what a wholesale rejection of the past few years this election is. People are not clamoring for more division, more hate, more misinformation, more ideology and more partisanship. No one is campaigning with a slogan Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, we’re all for the status quo!

     

    These "radical" ideas take time to take root, and even longer to reform the legalisms people like you put in place imagining that your narrow ways will last forever, when in fact, the most "radical" part of these ideas, "love thy neighbor" was given to all people.

     

    The most "radical" form of government was created acknowledging that times change, people evolve, society shifts and that a government of, by and for all equal people would need to adapt for people to remain free.
    Children that are raised in free societies, with self-respect, dignity, love and free from shame and stigma — that’s the best. I understand your anger and frustration, but that’s why faith teaches us forgiveness. Like everything else, it starts from within.


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    to send you one:

    I’m still waiting for someone to send me my copy of the gay agenda

    ask that person to please also enclose a copy of the “feminist agenda”. Thanks.

  • janine

    At teh end of the day
    is it right for a tiny minority (less than 1% given that not all homosexuals
    support overturning the family), to propose changing the definition of marriage
    and the family for the rest of us?

     

    No one is telling you that you must change your own definition
    within your marriage/family and engage in a gay marriage. Legalizing gay marriage still allows you the freedom to only engage in heterosexual
    marriage if that’s what you think is the only appropriate definition for what you claim to be ‘the rest of us’.

     

    As a married, heterosexual woman, I stand up for Scott. I took my young children to Pride day
    recently and will continue to teach them to love their neighbor and treat
    others with dignity and equality.

  • invalid-0

    Is it your position that the majority of male homosexuals do not have multiple sex partners? Are you trying to say that just because the one study I referenced was not a large sample that it should be completely disregarded, even though it showed that not one out of 135 committed male homosexual couples could remain monogamous for more than five years? And it showed this even though the homosexual researchers were hoping to show the opposite?

    Are you trying to say that you believe the majority or even a large percentage of male homosexuals are monogamous and faithful to one partner?

    If you do not like the first study that my colleague referred to in the meeting there are more. Try this link to multiple studies:

    http://www.unitedfamilies.org/documents/UFIfamilyIGSOfullpage_000.pdf

    Under Unstable Relationships:

    1) An Amsterdam study found that the average homosexual relationship lasts only 18 months and that “men in homosexual relationships, on average, have eight partners a year outside those relationships.” By comparison, more than
    two-thirds of heterosexual marriages in America last longer than 10 years. Maria Xiridou et al., “The Contribution of Steady and Casual Partnerships to the Incidence of HIV Infection Among Homosexual Men in Amsterdam,” AIDS 17, 7 (2003): 1029-1038.

    2) The Advocate, America’s largest homosexual magazine,
    published these results of their survey: 57 percent of homosexual readers claimed more than thirty sexual partners during their lifetime, 35 percent claimed more than one hundred sexual partners in their lifetime, 48 percent
    admitted having a “three-way” sexual encounter during the past five years, 29 percent admitted to meeting their partners in a bathhouse or a sex club. The Advocate, August 1994.

    3) A 1991 study of homosexual men in New York City revealed that the average number of lifetime sexual partners was 308. H. Meyer-Balburg et al.,”Sexual Risk Behavior, Sexual Functioning and HIV-Disease Progression in Gay Men,” Journal of Sex Research 28, 1 (1991): 3-27.

    4) According to Centers for Disease Control interviews,50 percent of male homosexuals had over 500 sexual partners, and the first several hundred homosexual men diagnosed with
    AIDS had an average of 1,100 lifetime partners. G. Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men (New York: Dutton, 1997).

    6) A. P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, in their classic study of male and female homosexuality, found that 43 percent of white male homosexuals had sex with five hundred or more partners, with 28 percent having 1,000 or more sex partners. A P. Bell and M. S. Weinberg, Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), 308-309; See also A. P. Bell, M. S. Weinberg, and S. K. Hammersmith, Sexual Preference (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1981).

    8) “Few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime
    partners.” M. Pollak, “Male Homosexuality in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times,” edited by P. Aries and A. Bejin, pp. 40-61, cited by Joseph Nicolosi in Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality (Northvale: Jason Aronson Inc., 1991), 124-125.

    9) In a study of 2,583 older homosexuals, “the modal range for number of sexual partners was 101-500. In addition, 10.2 percent to 15.7 percent had between 501 and 1,000 partners, and between 10.2 percent and 15.7 percent reported having had more than 1,000 lifetime sexual partners.” Paul Van de Ven et al., “A Comparative Demographic and Sexual Profile of Older Homosexually Active Men,” Journal of Sex Research 34 (1997): 354.

    You can try to discredit all of the research by simply claiming they are bad studies and not representative, however, your case would be much stronger if you could find research that actually shows something to the contrary.

    I would be very interested to see any research that shows that the majority of male homosexuals (or even just ten or twenty percent) studied, maintained long-term sexually faithful monogamous relationships.

    Again this is a health issue, not a religious attack on homosexuals as you claim. We know that having multiple partners is the main cause of HIV/AIDS infections which was the point we were discussing in the first place.

    In another comment, someone agreed that male homosexuals are promiscuous, but stated the answer to the problem is condoms. However, the problem with this is that many times sex is not preplanned, or is engaged in under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and condoms, even if they are available, are not used.

    The promotion of “safe sex”(which is already being done extensively and the AIDS rates among men having sex with men have not gone down) is a harm reduction measure which can provide partial protection (condoms have failure rates), and only for those who use them every time.

    Also, HIV infection is not the only negative outcome associated at high rates with the homosexual lifestyle (I can post statistics on that as well). There are many other good reasons to provide treatment for unwanted same-sex attraction, which I agree is only effective if the change is sought voluntarily by the homosexual.

    Here is an interesting excerpt from the Boston Globe four years after same-sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts:

    “Many couples want conventional marriages, some are drawing on a creative definition of family forged while living “outside mainstream society,” said Joyce Kauffman, a family lawyer and gay activist. “They’ve incorporated whatever’s outside the box into their marriage.”

    Eric Erbelding and his husband, Michael Peck, both 44, see each other only every other weekend because Mr. Peck works in Pittsburgh. So, Mr. Erbelding said, “Our rule is you can play around because, you know, you have to be practical.”

    Mr. Erbelding, a decorative painter in Boston, said: “I think men view sex very differently than women. Men are pigs, they know that each other are pigs, so they can operate accordingly. It doesn’t mean anything.” Still, Mr. Erbelding said, most married gay couples he knows are “for the most part monogamous, but for maybe a casual three-way.”

    This article also stated that the first same-sex couple to marry in Massachusetts (Julie and Hillary Goodridge, who were plaintiffs in the suit that legalized same-sex marriage there) divorced only six months after they were married.

    While I realize the Boston Globe is not research, it is interesting because Eric and Michael are not from the “religious right” and yet they are of the opinion that homosexual men in committed relationships have multiple sex partners or even an occasional “casual three way.”

    And finally, if I really was an in the closet homosexual hater which you imply, and not just a concerned citizen that wants to get them help, why would I promote therapy in the first place?

    The very fact that we encourage treatment for unwanted same-sex attraction shows that we care about the person and that is why we are trying to help them live a healthier lifestyle, if they so desire it.

    I would never try to force my friend to stop smoking. She wouldn’t be successful unless it was her desire to change.
    And even though her various treatments have not been successful or were short lived, and she is still smoking, I still love her and want to help and support her whenever she is ready to try again. It certainly will not be easy, but we know it is possible because although many others have failed to change, many have succeeded and are much happier and healthier because of it.

    Although some smokers are able to change to a point that smoking is never a temptation again, my friend may have relapses and certainly may be tempted to smoke again.

    However, that does not mean her treatment was not worthwhile. In fact, for her, treatment could save her life as she had lung cancer and is now in remission.

    Likewise, treatment of unwanted same-sex attraction could save the life of a gay man who is at high risk for contracting HIV/AIDS.

    Again, instead of attacking my motives yet a third time, find me some research that shows that male homosexuals are generally monogamous (sexually).

    I will look forward to seeing it.

    Sharon Slater

  • scott-swenson

    Sharon,

     

    First, please forgive me if anything I’ve said has felt personal to you, it was not intended. I’m sure you are a lovely, well-intentioned woman with great friends and family. It is the information you misconstrue, the ways in which stigma and shame are advocated, and the harm that is done when we fail to recognize the amazing diversity of creation, that I take issue with.

     

    Second, I’m not "trying" to say any of the things you suggest about monogamy, what I am saying is that people should be respected the way they are, created by nature, or by God (if you believe the two are separate). If you want to encourage healthy behavior that is less risky, there is ample evidence, in this case from the Red Cross, that stigma and shame — what you advocate — do more harm than good.

     

    Third, why are women’s rates of HIV infection increasing so dramatically, especially in developing countries, if as you suggest HIV is just an issue for gay men, something that even most social conservatives gave up believing 20 years ago? There are far more articles on this site about women and HIV for people to read, so I won’t add the citations here.

     

    Fourth, you are arguing with yourself about monogamy. Below my response I’ve pasted a portion of an article from a heterosexual researcher/author who has studied monogamy in all species, including human. Another article in Science Daily suggests that it isn’t promiscuity, but the fact that some, not all, gay men have both insertive and receptive sex, and the sensitivity of anal sex in terms of transmission of HIV, that is responsible for the higher rate of gay male HIV infection in some parts of the world.

     

    So it seems you are better off encouraging all people to understand how to have safer sex, and the risks involved in different types of sex, than stigmatizing anyone. But that would make you a public health advocate not an ideologue, and we’d be in agreement that the best way to help people is to educate and inform them based on their own reality, not anyone’s efforts to shame them, or try to change them. People who have self-respect, and are respected by others, once armed with facts, generally make good choices in their lives. But even the most well adjusted people, with all the facts in the world, remain human, and subject to lapses in judgment or too often subject to circumstances beyond their control that may put them at risk. We should maximize respect, and minimize risk.

     

    Fifth, and finally before the ecxerpeted study on monogamy below, why is that gay people are accused of trying to destroy the family and America when the rights they fight for include: the right to not be harrassed, bullied or beaten in school or anywhere else; the right to be accepted by our families of origin, not rejected or shamed; the right not to be fired from a job for being gay; the right to serve our country; the right to form families with the same legal equality heterosexuals have, be that in civil union or marriage; the right to adopt and care for children who need good parenting. If that’s the "gay agenda" it sounds very pro-family. And just to keep pace with your rants about promiscuity, another story about the first couple to wed in California, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons, together in love for 55 years before able to legally marry last month.


    What follows is excerpted from an article entitled Deflating the Myth of Monogamy. It’s author David P. Barash is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington.
    His most recent book, written with his wife, the psychiatrist Judith Eve Lipton,
    is The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People,
    published this month by W. H. Freeman.

     

    NEXT STOP, Homo
    sapiens. Social conservatives like to point out what they see as threats to
    "family values." But they don’t have the slightest idea how great that
    real threat is, or where it comes from. Monogamy is definitely under siege, not
    by government, declining morals, or some vast homosexual conspiracy — but by
    our own evolutionary biology. Infants have their infancy. And adults? Adultery.

    To begin with, we
    probably never occupied an Edenic paradise of one-to-one fidelity. The evidence
    is as follows: First, men are significantly larger than females, a pattern
    consistently found among polygynous species. From deer to seals to primates, the
    harem-keeping sex is the larger one, because competition among harem keepers
    rewards those who are larger and brawnier. Second, around the world, men are
    more violent than women (see Evidence No. 1; it avails little in acquiring a
    large number of mates for a male to be physically intimidating unless he is also
    inclined to make use of his assets). Third, girls become sexually mature earlier
    than do boys — another tell-tale sign of polygyny, because the intense
    competition among harem keepers conveys an evolutionary payoff for the
    "keeping" sex to delay maturation until individuals are large, strong,
    and possibly canny enough to have some chance of success. And fourth, before the
    cultural homogenization that came with Western colonialism, more than
    three-quarters of all human societies were polygynous.

    But it’s one thing to
    conclude that our biology favors polygyny, and quite another to decide that most
    people, most of the time, were either keepers or members of harems. The
    likelihood is that only a few succeeded at polygyny, just as only a small
    proportion of females were chosen (or coerced). The great majority of people —
    of both sexes –undoubtedly practiced monogamy, at least its social variety. As
    to sexual monogamy, the situation is obscure, but — given the high frequency of
    E.P.C.’s among ostensibly monogamous animals — it is hard not to suspect
    something similar among Homo sapiens. Certainly, the intense sexual jealousy and
    competitiveness among human beings strongly suggest that adultery has a long
    history in our species. (Why would our biology have outfitted us with such
    traits if utter fidelity were the rule?) In this regard, moreover, testicles
    have a tale to tell.

    Gorillas, despite their
    large bodies, have comparatively tiny testicles. Those of chimpanzees, by
    contrast, are immense. The reason for the difference seems clear: Gorilla males
    compete with their bodies, not their sperm. Once a dominant silverback male has
    achieved control over a harem of females, he is pretty much guaranteed to be the
    only male who copulates with them. Chimps, by contrast, experience a sexual
    free-for-all, with many different males often copulating in succession with the
    same adult female. As a result, male chimpanzees compete with their sperm, and
    they have evolved big testicles to produce large quantities of it. In most
    species, the ratio of testicle size to body size is a good predictor of how many
    sexual partners an animal is likely to have.

    How, then, do human
    beings rate in this regard? The testicles of Homo sapiens are, relatively
    speaking, larger than those of gorillas but smaller than those of the champion
    chimpanzees. The most likely interpretation? Human beings are less certain of
    sexual monopoly than are gorillas, but are not as promiscuous as chimps. Another
    way of putting it: We are (somewhat) biologically primed to form mateships, but
    at the same time, adultery is no stranger in our evolutionary past.

    Given how much we have
    been learning about extra-pair matings among animals, and considering the
    current availability of DNA testimony, it is remarkable how rarely genetic
    paternity tests have been run on human beings. On the other hand, considering
    the inflammatory potential of the results — as well as, perhaps, a hesitancy to
    open such a Pandora’s box — Homo sapiens’ reluctance to test for paternity may
    be sapient indeed. Even before DNA fingerprinting, blood-group studies in
    England found that the purported father of a child is the real father about 94
    percent of the time; that means that in six out of every hundred cases, someone
    else is. In response to surveys, 25 to 50 percent of American men report having
    had at least one episode of extramarital sex. The numbers for women are perhaps
    a bit lower, but in the same ballpark.

    Many people already
    know quite a lot — probably more than they would choose — about the disruptive
    effects of extramarital sex. It wouldn’t be surprising if a majority would
    rather not be informed about its possible genetic consequence, extramarital
    fatherhood. Maybe ignorance is bliss.


    Be the change you seek,

    Scott Swenson, Editor

  • invalid-0

    Scott,
    Thank you for such a terrific, thoughtful and informative response! Also, thanks for adding to my ever expanding book list!
    Keep up the good work!

  • invalid-0

    i know this topic is a few months old, but i still feel compelled to post a comment.
    i came across this today after googling, “right wing propaganda”. i don’t know why i do this to myself – i just end up depressed, angry, and/or frustrated.
    life should be so much simpler. it SHOULD all come down to the golden rule.
    i just don’t get where so many conservatives are coming from – though i suspect it is a place of fear; fear of anyone outside what they consider “right” or “moral”. and that’s fine, if that’s how they want to view the world around them. what’s horrible about it, is that they then attempt to force their views/beliefs/fear/hatred/bigotry/god,etc…on the rest of us.
    i really wish they could wake up one day and realize that we ALL are HUMANS first.