Among the most obsessed anti-gay activists, lies die hard.
The Minnesota Family Council (MFC) — an independent affiliate of both the Family Research Council and the more-moderate Focus on the Family — was one of the most prominent proponents of a state referendum to constitutionally outlaw same-sex marriage. After the state Legislature’s May 21 vote to place the referendum on the ballot, MFC President Tom Prichard told the media he hoped that Minnesotans could hold a "respectful discussion" about the issue that wouldn’t get "personal."
Prichard, evidently, hoped LGBT people and their advocates wouldn’t take personally the fact that his organization was spreading vicious falsehoods about them. Bloggers quickly revealed the existence of a "legislative handbook" on the MFC’s website claiming, among other things, that "the homosexual population includes a disproportionate number of pedophiles," that "some homosexuals have become urolagniacs (ingesting urine and feces) and engage in bestiality as well as other deviant behaviors," and that LGBT people are abnormal and disordered — all claims that have been roundly rejected by credible scholarly researchers. The handbook also advocated the removal of "sexual orientation" from the state’s Human Rights Act, asserted that "[t]here is no evidence that a significant number of homosexuals are being discriminated against," and recommended that a "religious and conscientious objector" clause should be added to the law — evidently to allow Christians to ignore the legally protected human rights of LGBT people.
The MFC quickly removed that section of its handbook from its website, although it can be seen here. On Wednesday, Prichard defended the postings in a National Public Radio interview as getting "into the nature of homosexuality and homosexual behavior." But he didn’t restore the lurid material to his group’s website. (Read the Intelligence Report’s recent article debunking the anti-gay movement’s 10 key myths about LGBT people.)
The MFC attributes much of its handbook data on homosexuality to a 1994 publication called "Informed Answers to Gay Rights Questions" by Roger Magnuson, dean of the Oak Brook College of Law and Government Policy, a Christian law school in Fresno, Calif. In that publication, Magnuson repeated many of the claims he made in a 1990 book, "Are Gay Rights Right?" In a review of the earlier book, Dr. Ralph Blair, a New York City psychotherapist and founder of the Homosexual Community Counseling Center and Evangelicals Concerned, wrote that it was "filled with inflammatory stereotypes and misinformation." According to Blair, Magnuson wrote, for example, "Most homosexuals have had some experience with … sadomasochism, group orgies, bondage, or transvestism" and that "one-fifth of all homosexuals admitted to having sexual contact, or at least masturbating, with animals." Blair was so astounded by Magnuson’s illogic, misrepresentations of research and unsupported assertions that he wrote, "How can a Christian write such a book? How can Christians buy into such a book?" He concluded, "This is a book about homosexuals bashed by a fundamentalist who hasn’t spent enough time in the library."
Although he hadn’t read Magnuson’s later book, Blair concluded from a synopsis that it amounted to the "same misinformation and misinterpretation." In an E-mail to Hatewatch, Blair wrote of Magnuson, "I assume he is more careful serving his law clients than he is in writing against homosexuality."
Other "facts" presented by the MFC – such as the claim that domestic violence rates among homosexuals are four to 25 times higher than for married couples — were drawn from material published by the Family Research Institute, headed by thoroughly discredited anti-gay pseudo-scientist Paul Cameron. Past MFC posts have cited other thoroughly debunked Cameron statistics.
In December, MFC representative Barb Anderson proudly claimed credit for keeping LGBT-themed school safety materials out of the Anoka-Hennepin School District near Minneapolis, which saw at least four LGBT students die from suicide during the past two school years after being bullied by classmates. Anderson, speaking on a radio show hosted by fellow anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, blamed the suicides on gay advocacy groups, saying they were "creating an environment where these children that are sexually confused suddenly become affirmed as a homosexual or that they are born that way, and then these kids are locked into a lifestyle with their choices limited, and many times this can be disastrous to them as they get into the behavior which leads to disease and death in some cases." While acknowledging that bullying exists and has "just been awful," Anderson said, that shouldn’t be a springboard for "promoting" homosexuality.
Focus on the Family had its own bit of drama last week. Its president and chief executive officer, Jim Daly, set conservative (and surprised liberal) tongues aflutter in an interview with the Christian publication World, in which he said of the same-sex marriage issue, "We're losing on that one, especially among the 20- and 30-somethings: 65 to 70 percent of them favor same-sex marriage. I don't know if that's going to change with a little more age — demographers would say probably not. We've probably lost that."
But just a few days later, Daly was backpedaling. In a Washington Post opinion piece Wednesday, Daly insisted, "I am not waving a white flag. I’m not even contemplating picking one up. There is still much work to be done by those of us in the faith community to advocate for marriage as it has been defined, and practiced, by every civilized society for millennia. … [W]e cannot expect the culture to be the church. As Christians, we are called to speak the truth in love, and advance it in public policy, regardless of opinion polls or shifting political winds. But our responsibility doesn’t end at the bully pulpit or the ballot box. We also must model the beauty and permanence of traditional marriage to society. And, to be frank, we have not done a very good job in that regard."