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Les Kinsolving, a conservative talk-show host in Baltimore who claims to be a White House correspondent for the fact-challenged online conspiracy portal World Net Daily, is among the latest to employ discredited myths that LGBT people risk early death and poor health simply for being gay.
Under the headline “Pandering to deadly-disease spreaders,” Kinsolving on Tuesday chided President Obama for praising New York’s decision in late June to legalize same-sex marriage. The commentator ludicrously equated homosexuality with paraphilia, an abnormal sexual attraction to objects, nonconsenting partners such as children, or dangerous or humiliating acts. Kinsolving defined attraction to dead bodies, animals, feces, urine and similar objects as “sexual orientations.”
Kinsolving then refers to LGBT people as “deadly-disease spreaders,” alluding to the higher rates of HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among LGBT people, particularly gay men. He misleadingly conflates sexual orientation and the behavioral factors that actually spread such infections among both gays and straights alike. “Such presidential pandering to deadly-disease spreaders is surely a despicable means of trying to attract votes by an incumbent who will apparently do anything to try to win re-election.”
What is, in fact, despicable is Kinsolving’s sly linkage of two entirely unrelated matters: The political issue of legal same-sex unions and the medical issues regarding physical and emotional health. STIs are spread primarily through unprotected sexual contact regardless of whether the participants are joined in matrimony. If anything, logic suggests that gay men and lesbians who can choose marriage would be less inclined to seek multiple or heterosexual partners, and that such monogamy would likely slow the spread of STIs. In fact, one 2009 study suggested that bans on gay marriage may increase the spread of HIV-AIDS by compelling more LGBT people to resort to underground sexual practices that carry more risk.
Kinsolving’s rant is hardly an isolated reaction on the far right. Gary Glenn, the head of the Michigan chapter of the American Family Association (AFA) – an SPLC-designated hate group – appeared Tuesday on the radio show hosted by Linda Harvey of Mission America. Similarly misconstruing health and domestic violence data, the two agreed that employers should avoid hiring LGBT people.
Implying that sexual orientation is a choice – a position not supported by reliable research – Glenn said, “It’s not really bright to engage in [homosexual] behavior that puts you at dramatically higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse and AIDS and cancer and hepatitis, and according to various sources, premature death.” Harvey replied: “You’re right. And higher rates of domestic violence and unstable relationships. I would not think of a homosexual person as a good employment risk, I just wouldn’t.”
If, in fact, hiring decisions were based on statistical probabilities that an employee would commit domestic abuse, straight men would head the list of those who should be shunned for employment, since men are responsible for almost 96 percent of the cases of partner abuse against women. In any case, numerous studies have shown that domestic violence among LGBT couples occurs at about the same rate as among heterosexual couples – in about 25 to 33 percent of relationships.
The long-disproved myth that LGBT people have significantly shorter life spans than heterosexuals is a throwback to flawed studies by widely discredited researchers like Paul Cameron. It is virtually impossible to compare gay and straight death rates, mostly because there is no reliable way to ascertain who, among all who have died, were gay.
As for the “severe medical consequences” of being an LGBT person, Glenn, like Kinsolving, makes a causality error that is typical among gay bashers. He alleges that simply being gay results in physical and emotional consequences – fully ignoring behavioral choices, which affect the spread of physical disease, and the societal pressures that credible research shows serves to ostracize LGBT people and cut them off from the professional help and family support they may need to cope with being stigmatized.
The World Health Organization in June issued a report that concluded, “Long-standing evidence indicates that MSM [men who have sex with men] and transgender people experience significant barriers to quality health care due to widespread stigma against homosexuality and ignorance about gender variance in mainstream society and within health systems. Social discrimination against MSM and transgender people has also been described as a key driver of poor physical and mental health outcomes in these populations across diverse settings. In addition to being disproportionately burdened by STI and HIV, MSM and transgender people experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, smoking, alcohol abuse, substance use and suicide as a result of chronic stress, social isolation and disconnection from a range of health and support services.”
In other words, the next time Kinsolving, Glenn and Harvey want to discuss risk factors facing LGBT people, they should first consult a mirror.