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A Poll of Their Own: Family Research Council Takes on the Pentagon

By Mark Potok on December 2, 2010 - 4:55 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT, Extremist Propaganda

Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council (FRC), was on the attack again today. In a live event broadcast from the FRC political arm’s website, Perkins announced that a new FRC poll had found that almost 63% of “active duty and retired military families oppose overturning the policy prohibiting open homosexuality in the military.” The poll, commissioned by the FRC and the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, seemed to fly directly in the face of a brand new Pentagon poll, which concluded that 70% of surveyed service members believe that ending the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy would be positive, have mixed results or be of no consequence. (Thirty percent of the 115,000 people polled by the Pentagon said the repeal would have some negative effects.)

The FRC has a record of trumpeting a series of allegedly negative aspects of homosexuality, including the false claims that gay men have high rates of pedophilia and that “homosexual activists” want to abolish all age-of-consent laws. As a result, the Southern Poverty Law Center added the group to its list of hate groups after its lengthy study of the hard core of the anti-gay right was released last week.

What accounted for the apparently gigantic gap between the two studies? It was hard to tell, largely because the FRC released very few details of the poll carried out by CC Advertising, a firm with a client list that includes conservative organizations like the Abstinence Clearinghouse. But by including “retired military families,” the poll obviously skewed its results because older generations of all Americans tend to have far less tolerant attitudes toward gays than younger Americans. The FRC poll, of course, also polled “military families,” not necessarily those serving.

In his remarks, Perkins suggested that the Pentagon’s 70% finding was “simply without basis.” He suggested that service members are under military discipline and therefore might not say anything that would contradict the Obama Administration. He questioned whether the poll might have had a “predetermined outcome.” And he suggested that very few gays and lesbians left the armed forces because they could not serve openly; instead, he said, large numbers might be purposely revealing their homosexuality to officers simply “to avoid another potential tour of duty.”

He offered no evidence to back any of these suggestions.

Perkins’ webcast followed a clarification that was run Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” where Perkins had cited the “American College of Pediatricians” to support his allegation, in a Monday appearance on the show, that “homosexuality poses a danger to children.” Said Matthews: “We need to note right now that the group that Perkins sourced, the American College of Pediatricians, is not the same group as the American Academy of Pediatrics, but a group of about 100 conservative-minded doctors that formed in 2002 in response to the academy’s support of gay parental rights. We like to straighten these things out.”

  • reallycooley

    i wanna thank the splc for all the hard work you do, as a gay teen it’s relieving to see someone stand up against the evangelical bigots.

  • Mitch Beales

    Carrying Daniel’s argument to a logical extreme one would conclude that Hindus should not be allowed to practice their religion because they are “idolators” and Christians consider idolatry a sin.

    I also take issue with Daniel’s claim that male and female are unequivocally distinct. There are those who think that sometimes a man is born in a woman’s body and vice versa. I don’t necessarily agree but my guess is that the proportion of knowledgeable folks who believe this is similar to the proportion who believe that homosexuality can be “cured.”

  • R Lavigueur

    Daniel,

    I thank you for your courtesy as well, I too prefer civil discussion to the usual assortment of slurs and ad hominem attacks. I would, however, appreciate if you would back up your broader statements, such as traditional values creating more stable environments, with references to the evidence in question. There’s a growing body of psychological, sociological and paediatric research that, for one example, suggests that the children of gays and lesbians succeed just as well as the children of heterosexual parents. If you would like, I can provide a list of the studies in question. As for sexual orientation not being a choice because of design, most biologists reject the idea of design, and though they might argue about the origins of homosexuality, few suggest that nature inscribes specific sexual purposes in species that evolve. Design enters into the realm of religion, and while I agree with your interpretation of Christian scripture (something many liberal Christians would not), it becomes a matter of degree. We might agree that a religion has the right to condemn homosexual activity, but should it have the right to enforce its sexual morals on those who follow other religions; or no religion at all? Should religious views of family organization be allowed to become law in a nation guaranteeing religious freedom to its citizens?

    In regard to homosexuals changing their sexual orientation, I think it all depends on how we define homosexuality and what is taken to constitute a change. Does a change in behaviour amount to a change in orientation, for instance, and did the study in question acknowledge the possibility of bisexuality and other more fluid sexual identities? Depending on the variables, I’d gather we can both provide studies that support our opinions, however, the APA and other major health organizations discourage reparative therapy due to the lack of supporting research, a position I’m inclined to agree with based on my own experiences and knowledge of the literature.

    In reference to the marriage certificate, licensed marriage carries numerous legal and financial benefits not covered without that certificate. This can make a huge difference in a country where hospitals have denied partners the right to visit their dying loved ones, or to assist each other with unexpected medical expenses. I agree though that this isn’t what makes a marriage, what is important here is the symbolic value of having the state, not just family and church, recognize and bless the union. The word matters to both sides, otherwise why fight so hard to gain it or deny it? Denying equality inherently sends the message that one’s relationships is flawed and unworthy of recognition.

    But my main concern is with the FRC, and the positions it has publically expressed. What evidence, for instance, supports the claim that gay men molest children at a higher rate that heterosexuals? Or that gay service members in the army will prey upon their straight comrades if DADT is repealed? It’s all fine and well to state that these conclusions are derived from national statistics, but I’d be curious to learn exactly how they managed to reach the opposite conclusions of the vast majority of researchers in the field of child safety and, in the case of DADT, the experiences of the 22 nations in NATO which allow the open service of gay men and lesbians. I’d be happy to provide a list of studies debunking these claims by the FRC as well.

  • Daniel

    R Lavigueur,
    Before we continue any further, I would like to thank you for maintaining courteous discussion with me. I’ve seen far too many discussion boards and personal conversations turn to slander and personal attacks. So thank you for engaging in a civil discussion.

    I’ve seen personal cases where people were open and flagrant homosexuals but changed. They did not experience ‘unacceptable personal costs.’ I know any story i tell will not change the discussion but in my experience homosexuals can change their behavior without destroying themselves in the process.

    I do not think my statements are contradictory as Christianity is a religion based upon choice. (That’s a bold statement as there is another large discussion to be made over free will v. predestination but I’ll stay on topic here.) Sexual orientation is not a choice as men are created to be with females and vice versa. Christians view deviation of that as sin. I know you’ll disagree on that but after carefully studying scripture and looking at empirical evidence, that is the Christian belief. So to condemn homosexuality and say they should not engage in that behavior is not contradicting religious liberty. Just like it is not wrong to say children should not drive vehicles. I still love the child but they should not drive. To say that isn’t limiting their free will but rather trying to protect them. If I didn’t love my homosexuals friends I would let them continue on with what they are doing.

    “…hating their sin of expressing their sexuality by entering into relationships for which they desire the recognition and benefits granted by a state recognized marriage or civil union.” You seem to argue that there is this sort of satisfaction with being recognized by the government as a married couple. Now I’m not married but I’ve seen my fair share of marriages and i can honestly say the happiness of a union between a man and a women does not come from that marriage certificate. I’m sure you can agree with me on this. And in response to your updated example, your comparing opposite ends of the spectrum. Comparing a womans right to work outside the home to someone choosing homosexuality is like comparing Manchester United to West Ham. (Sorry had to work in a soccer analogy somehow :)) They are two drastically different actions with drastically different moral outcomes.

    I can understand where you are coming from with your last point. It’s hard to judge individual people without knowing them.
    But your statement about FRC inventing evidence shows your lack depth on the subject. FRC does not “invent” evidence as you suggest but works hard to analyze statistical data from credible sources like the US government and other countries governments. Your suggestion that there is overwhelming evidence on the contrary is simply false. Traditional family values are shown to be more helpful to create a more stable, productive and thriving community. And that is something you can take to the bank.

  • R Lavigueur

    Daniel,

    There is research that suggests that homosexuality is a developed action acted upon by choice, but it is far from the most accepted scientific understanding of sexuality. Essentially all major health organizations have released statements that homosexuality is a natural sexual orientation for a minority of humans, that it is not chosen, and can be changed in only very rare cases and at unacceptable personal costs to the individual.

    Your own statement above seems to contain a contradiction. You state that homosexual individuals have a choice to act upon their sexuality, and it is not immoral to condemn them for making what you consider to be the wrong choice, and yet in the paragraph above you criticise the concept of religious people being restricted from acting in accordance with their identities. If I am denying the connection between action and belief in regard to religion, be wary of yourself denying the connection between action and sexuality in regard to sexual orientation.

    Further, my example isn’t as removed as you are making it. Being born female is an unchangeable characteristic, a woman choosing to work outside the home is, however, something that falls into the realm of choice. If I claim to love and respect women while hating the ‘sin’ of women entering the workforce, I am being no more and no less unreasonable than someone who claims to love gay people while hating their sin of expressing their sexuality by entering into relationships for which they desire the recognition and benefits granted by a state recognized marriage or civil union.

    Finally, I did not claim knowledge that those at the FRC do not challenge their beliefs, I stated that there is little evidence to those of us on the receiving end of their propaganda that they do so. I have a difficult time believing that anyone could simply invent evidence the way the FRC has done without knowing exactly what it was that they were doing, and without making the conscious choice to lie in the process. If those people working at the FRC are willing to evaluate their own beliefs, how can they continue to trumpet studies purported to show homosexual deviancy and degeneracy in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

  • Daniel

    R Lavigueur,

    In response to your first paragraph. I get your point and its a good one. But your still failing to see the connection between action and belief. Belief without works is dead and that’s not a religious statement, that’s a general statement. If a person believes something, why would their outward action merit a different response. That’s not being true to themselves and in fact, they are lying about who they really are.

    Now to your second paragraph. You are comparing apples with oranges. A person is born with characteristics that distinguish them as either male or female. Homosexuality, on the other hand, is a developed action which is acted upon by choice. There is research that concurs with this statement. A belief that holds homosexuality as immoral is condemning the act and not the person. The person is loved, the action is not. Big difference between your example of sexist beliefs.

    Also a little ps- the people who work at FRC challenge their beliefs everyday. To suggest that they do not check their beliefs daily, or even at all for that matter, is a blind statement from someone who knows very little of whom they speak.

  • R Lavigueur

    Daniel,

    My advice would be to add something to your thoughts at the end. It is not enough for the believer to evaluate the justification of their beliefs, although there is little evidence that groups like the FRC are willing to go even that far. The believer must also examine whether it is their beliefs that harm others or their expression of and acting on those beliefs. I think it is action, not belief, which JAlmos was referring to.

    Religious liberty is the freedom to believe and to express your beliefs without being harmed or punished for those beliefs. But it has never meant freedom from critique for your beliefs. If my religion says that women are inferior to men, I cannot cry religious intolerance when women and less sexist men disagree with me, and with studies I have created to demonstrate this. I certainly cannot claim that the mere existence of women or their equality in society is an attack against my religious freedom, no matter what my religion states about women. Why should this be any different with anti-gay religious beliefs?

  • Daniel

    Alright JAlmos, I’ll bite. Let’s run with your last statement. Why are people not allowed to live out their beliefs? By your statement, someone can only believe what they wish inside their own home but once outside, they must believe something entirely different. What gives you the right to tell people what they should believe. Sounds like your dancing with infringement of religious liberty.

    You also fail to recognize beliefs as a whole. If someone believes something, what good is it to not let that shape who they are? They believe something and that shapes their entire thinking. By saying they can’t hold to that belief all the time, it invalidates that belief.

    And to your point about not hurting anybody. If someone’s belief is hurting someone then two things must occur. The person with the belief must evaluate their belief and see if it is justified or not. And two, the hurting person must also look at their behavior and if their behavior is in their best interest or not. Just some thoughts.

  • JAlmos

    “Shall we issue a denunciatory hate warning on our own families too?”

    If the family has a problem with people just because they’re gay, and they go out of their way (e.g. pay for a study) in order to spread information to promote that viewpoint as part of an effort to deny them their rights, then yes, you should.

    It’s fine to not like gay people, just so long as people do it in their own homes and don’t hurt anybody.

  • R Lavigueur

    Marion,

    No, the FRC study is not scientifically valid, because the study is not, as they claim, representative of the US military’s current service members, who are the demographic most important for ending DADT. In order to be a valid study, it would have to have a randomly selected sample representative of that demographic. Instead, the only information we have about the study is that it was done of active and retired service members and their families. We don’t know what questions were asked in the FRC poll, although their statement gives clues.

    Open homosexuality in the military implies something very, very different than uncloseted gays and lesbians, and in fact implies the sort of nightmare fantasy world discussed by these anti-gay bigots of shower rape and gay sex on the battlefield. Of course, you seem to believe that leading questions are perfectly fine… as long as they’re the leading questions that give you an answer you agree with.

    The idea that older people are more anti-gay is simple honesty. The SPLC makes no claim that the older generation’s prejudice against gays in the army makes them a hate group, it simply notes that it makes them the perfect group to include in a poll about an army they no longer serve in if you want anti-gay results. As with sexism, racism, and Anti-Semitism, the evolution of society’s view tends to change slower in older people than younger, and to change with generations. These people do have a different idea of what homosexuality is and how homosexuals should be treated, but you’ll need evidence beyond age to make the claim that this view is a ‘wiser’ one than that suggested by every major psychological, sociological, anthropological, and medical organization in the Western world. Organizations that hold their studies to significantly higher standards of representation and accuracy than those of the research firms you describe above.

    The survey used by the administration wasn’t perfect, something noticed by the pro-gay side when the survey was leaked, but it was imperfect in a way that nobody on the anti-gay side complained about before the results weren’t the results that they wanted. The FRC, however, has a long history of rejecting science that disagrees with its position, stating that research concludes results opposite of the researchers’ own conclusions, and simply making claims without evidence where even marginal evidence isn’t available.

  • Marion

    The FRC’s study is valid, and it doesn’t help the cause of hate exposure when we adamantly say it isn’t. There’s nothing wrong with admitting, older people are WISER, and and have a very different view and understanding of homosexuality. The Obama administration study asks very determined and pre-qualified questions? They did a preliminary study using differently worded questions to find out which way it needed to be worded to get the result they needed.Not an uncommon method anymore, there’s even a host of huge companies out there who can take an issue, and with a couple of years of “designed” media representation, polls, preliminary “trial surveys” etc. can literally change the entire nations thinking on whatever subject you want them to do so.
    the only thing needed is LOTS OF MONEY, and sometimes, as with the gay leaders, lots of patients.
    I think it’s time a new tactic is taken up. Honesty – like it or not, is the best working policy.
    There is nothing wrong with having a DIFFERENT and opposing view of subjects. Your eventually going to cut your own throat when pretend these anomalies are extreme, bigoted, stupid, mean, whatever. They are after all, in most cases, our grandma’s, grandpa’s, mothers and fathers. Shall we issue a denunciatory hate warning on our own families too?

  • Daniel

    This blog post says absolutely nothing. The military working group sent questionnaires to retired military and military families. So not quite sure why FRC’s report is all of sudden invalid.

  • JAlmos

    I’m wondering if Tom would like to share the term he would use for a group that consistently and purposely maligns another group of people – for no reason other than their skin color, sexuality or religion – by intentionally spreading misinformation which is designed to deny them basic civil rights.

    I would think “hate group” is a perfect term for that, whether such a group be on the right wing or the left.

    Honest question. I’m curious.

  • Steven

    The 1964 Civil Rights Act should protect homosexuals serving in the US military. I don’t understand why there’s still discrimination towards people with a different sexual orientation or gender in any government branch. This is something the Supreme Court needs to look at, and overturn the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

  • Tom

    I supported the SPLC financially in the past, but the subtitle shown under the HATEWATCH logo sums up why I stopped supporting this organization. It’s drifted too far left. Why just keep an eye on the radical right? Why not the radical left? Hate is found among both liberal and conservative organizations. By labelling the FRC as a Hategroup shows that the SPLC is simply intolerant of those who disagree with them, with those who express a belief that sex outside the confines of a marriage between a man and a woman is wrong.

  • Serg

    yeah so they are so full of it im surprised they can walk
    This is why the american public is confused about the science of statistics and the rules that govern publication of scientific studies.
    The family research council if they even did an actual survey likely only surveyed people on conservative and religious mailing lists but based on the historical evidence they are just as likely to have made it up whole cloth by piecing together unrelated studies. There are arguments to be made in a nation of freedom of religion and separation of church and state as to the best way to protect the rights of the religious and non religious alike but it starts with the facts not this foolish nonsense that distorts real science and creates confusion.

  • Ian

    While I have no beef with placing many of these organizations on the hate group list, the criteria still confuses me. Looking at the list of groups in the “Intelligence Report” article or even in the religious right as a whole I did not see a huge difference. I know the two main requirements are name-calling and citing bad research, but it seems tons of groups, from the National Organization for Marriage to Focus on the Family, do these same things.

    And I must say, the calls by some of these groups to have the government “defund” the SPLC are just hilarious.
    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/.....signations

  • George Frink

    Their survey questioned a dramatically older group than those who compose active duty military, as we explained in a piece deconstructing the misapplication of their poll by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard land:
    http://baptistplanet.wordpress.....nds-logic/
    Specifically, “The survey Land cited questioned a group which is not representative of the active duty military — 70.58 percent of those questioned were over 50. Whereas 70 percent of the troops are under age 30. The age difference is fundamentally why the Land-recommended survey produced a negative outcome.”
    Check it out. The .pdf document with what they say is the detailed results is at: http://www.frc.org/survey/dadt/final-report