by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
The “Yes on 8” campaign in California that, for the time being, succeeded in revoking some citizens’ basic civil right to a civil marriage used scare tactics and non sequitur arguments based on misrepresentations, distortions, and deceptions. And they’re still at it.
The “Yes on 8” campaign – funded primarily by the Mormon Church ($20,000,000), the Catholic Church ($1,300,000 from the Knights of Columbus and “priceless” pulpit politicking by Catholic priests) as well as the minions of the Protestant Christian Right, such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family ($622,000 in monetary and non-monetary contributions) and Don Wildmon’s American Family Association ($500,000) – flooded Californians’ television screens with ads claiming that if the Prop 8 failed, kindergarten children would have to be taught about homosexuality and gay marriage. They were misrepresenting, distorting, and deceiving:
A lesson about Prop. 8: Despite what proponents say, its defeat would not change what California's schools teach
Californians tend to be an open-minded crowd that wouldn’t take kindly to a campaign attacking homosexuality or attempting to strip away people's rights. So the well-financed and savvy backers of Proposition 8 have produced waves of advertising aimed instead at making voters believe that supporters of same-sex marriage are intent on stripping away everyone else’s rights, and that this ballot measure is the only way for traditionally religious people to retain them.
With the defeat of this proposed ban on gay marriage, they say, schools would begin indoctrinating children as young as kindergartners to be wholehearted supporters of such marriages. …
This is emotional stuff for many parents. But the dry reality of California education law tells a different story. Under SB 71, which passed in 2003, the Legislature set out the framework for comprehensive sex education, which includes the brief reference to marriage from which these dire Proposition 8 warnings are drawn: "Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships." Schools aren't required to teach comprehensive sex education, but if they do, this is one of many rules they must follow. The law also gives schools the option of discussing gender, sexual orientation and family life, though that's not required as part of the more comprehensive program.
Most important, the law contains paragraph after paragraph guaranteeing parents the right to review the material being taught and to have their children excused from all or any part of it. …
Proposition 8 would change none of that. The measure would do one thing: use the state Constitution as the device to take away an existing, fundamental right from a particular group of people, so that a loving adult in that group could not marry the person of his or her choice. …
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On October 21, 2008, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin further exposed the deceptions:
State Education Officials Slam New Ads For Prop. 8
State education officials spoke out Tuesday against a series of ads released by the “Yes on 8” campaign that claim same-sex marriage would be taught in public schools if the statewide initiative fails. …
California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and his predecessor Delaine Eastin spoke out against the campaign today, along with California State Board of Education president Ted Mitchell, saying the proposition is not tied to public schools.
“There is nothing about Prop. 8 that is connected to public education in any way,” Mitchell said. “There is nothing in California state law that would require the teaching of marriage in any of its forms.”
Mitchell said state law allows parents to opt students out of lessons they find to be out of keeping with their personal beliefs. The “Yes on 8” advertisements suggesting that students will be taught about same-sex marriage if the proposition fails are untruthful, he said.
Mitchell said he is “disgusted” by the “Yes on 8” campaign, “in particular this misleading set of advertisements about the impact of Prop. 8 on education. This is political campaigning at its worst,” he said.
It seems these “religious folks” are true Machiavellians: the ends always justify the means. And they’re still at it: misrepresenting, distorting, and deceiving. Case in point, Marcia Segelstein’s November 18, 2008 article on the American Family Association’s propaganda organ, OneNewsNow. Ms. Segelstein began her deception by citing a fellow Machiavellian deceiver:
S.T. Karnick, writing in the autumn issue of SALVO magazine, points out that homosexuals may already “marry” in any number of places, under the auspices of any number of organizations. Churches such as the Episcopal Church USA, the Presbyterian Church USA, the United Church of Christ, and numerous others “either explicitly allow the consecration or blessing of same-sex ‘marriages’ or look the other way when individual congregations perform such ceremonies.” No law prevents these religious organizations from conducting such rituals, nor would most Americans expect or want the government to dictate doctrine to churches.
Salvo magazine is published by The Fellowship of St. James:
[FSJ] was incorporated in the early 1970’s to uphold biblical, orthodox Christianity. It has three goals: (1) to promote and defend classical Christian doctrine, (2) to encourage the life in Christ, (3) and to foster a united witness to biblical Christian truth to a secular society. FSJ is not a church or a membership association, but a Christian non-profit corporation that publishes periodicals and holds conferences and lectures. It seeks to provide a place where Christians of various backgrounds can speak with one another and witness together to the truth of historic Christianity.
Not exactly an objective or open-mined publication, is it?
What Karnick (and Segelstein) failed to note, of course, is that the marriages performed by these churches have absolutely no legal status. Ms. Segelstein apparently agreed with Karnick’s ludicrous statement that such marriages represent a “truly liberal and tolerant position.” That’s akin to saying, “Hey! Black people… what’s the problem? You have your own drinking fountains that don’t work, but they are supplied by the same municipal water supply as the drinking fountains reserved for us normal White people, so shut up and be happy.”
Then, Ms. Segelstein invoked other non sequitur arguments from the “Yes on 8” playbook:
What’s at issue here is government-enforced recognition that same-sex “marriage” is legally identical to traditional marriage, no matter the individuals’ or institutions’ religious beliefs.
Government intrusion on religion is what’s at stake.
Despite what proponents of gay “marriage” argue, there are serious and wide-ranging implications for society by redefining something so fundamental.
Despite what religious fanatics think – and would like everyone to think – marriage is a civil institution. Marriage license are issued by the state. Divorce decrees are issued by civil courts. “Religious beliefs” have nothing to do with either civil matter. That being FACT, it is not government intruding on religion, but religion intruding on civil matters, the civil equality of all citizens to be specific.
Yes, there would be “serious and wide-ranging implications for society by redefining” marriage, as there were in the past when “marriage” and “equality” were redefined, and those changes were always for the better as MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann noted. Redefining “citizen” meant recognizing African Americans as equals. Redefining “marriage” meant men and women of different races could legally marry. “Redefining” the outdated helps America live up to its promise of equality for all. But “equality for all” is precisely what the Christian Right fears.
Ms. Segelstein concluded her sermon with the familiar duplicitous dogma the Christian Right is so fond of propagating:
What's at risk in this fight is not the civil rights of homosexuals. What’s at risk is religious freedom for every American. That and the not-so-small problem of undermining what has been for centuries the very foundation of society.
The first line of Proposition 8 read: “ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY.” Prop 8 eliminated the existing civil right of same-sex couple to enter into a civil marriage. Of course “this fight” is about “the civil rights of homosexuals.”
How does civil marriage endanger “religious freedom”? Based on their religious dogma, every church and synagogue and mosque can refuse to marry a couple. That would not be affected in any way by civil equality. Beyond that fact, “religious freedom” refers to everyone’s right to practice the religion they choose, but also the freedom not to have any specific religion and its dogma forced onto everyone or encoded into civil law. Freedom From Religion.
“The not-so-small problem of undermining what has been for centuries the very foundation of society”: the family. Apparently Ms. Segelstein can’t – or simply refuses to – understand that same-sex couples also form families, just ask the 53,000 children being raised by same-sex parents in California. Statistics from May 17, 2004 – the day marriage equality began in Massachusetts – told a similar tale:
-- 50 percent of the same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses had been together for at least a decade.
-- The most predominant age group was 40 to 49 years-old; the median age was 43.
-- 40 percent of those female couples said they had children in their households.
Comments by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) featured in Maureen Dowd’s November 23, 2008 New York Times OpEd referenced the deception and unfounded scare tactics used by the “Yes on 8” campaign. They also said a lot about the true meaning of “family”:
The gays were outfoxed by their opponents. In both Prop 6 in 1978 [“which sought to root out gay teachers from California public schools”] and this year’s Prop 8, the specter of children being converted to a gay orientation was raised. Feinstein said the TV ad of Prop 8 supporters insinuating that “gay marriage would be taught in school really hurt.” (“I can marry a princess,” a pigtailed girl told her mom in the ad.)
“I think people are beginning to look at it differently, I know it’s happened for me,” Feinstein said of gay marriage. “I started out not supporting it. The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve seen the happiness of people, the stability that these commitments bring to a life. Many adopted children who would have ended up in foster care now have good solid homes ... It’s a very positive thing.”
But those children, those families, those parents just don’t matter for Ms. Segelstein and the Christian Right. Indeed, they seem to enjoy hurting them. Is that… “Christian”?
The American Family Association’s propaganda organ, OneNewsNow, has always been a fountain of hypocrisy and distortion, but recently ONN writers have been outdoing themselves. On November 20, 2008 ONN featured an article – “The insane rage of the same-sex ‘marriage’ mob” – by Michelle Malkin, a “syndicated columnist” with Creators Syndicate that also represents Robert Novak and Bill O'Reilly:
Before Election Day, national media handwringers forged a wildly popular narrative: The right was, in the words of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, gripped by “insane rage.” Outbreaks of incivility (some real, but mostly imagined) were proof positive of the extremist takeover of the Republican Party. The cluck-cluckers and tut-tutters shook with fear.
But when the GOP took a beating on Nov. 4, no mass protests ensued; no nationwide boycotts erupted. Conservatives took their lumps and began the peaceful post-defeat process of self-flagellation, self-analysis and self-autopsy. In fact, in the wake of campaign 2008 there’s only one angry mob gripped by “insane rage”: left-wing same-sex marriage activists incensed at their defeat in California. …
Gee, Ms. Malkin, do you think revoking people’s existing civil rights just might piss them off a bit? And one can only presume you are either ignorant about or just chose to ignore the fact that Vermont Senate Majority Leader John Campbell received a death threat the day “after the Democrat announced he would introduce a marriage equality bill in the new session of the legislature. The threat was made by an anonymous woman angry over the proposed bill who telephoned Campbell. Campbell said she threatened to blow up his home.” Doesn’t that sound like “insane rage” coming from the ultra-conservative, holier-than-thou Christian Right wing of the GOP?
Ms. Malkin then went on to decry the fact that equality “activists have published on the Internet an ‘Anti-Gay Blacklist’ of Prop. 8 donors. If the tables were turned and Prop. 8 proponents created such an enemies list…” Oh but they did, Ms. Malkin. Did you – and another ONN writer, Charlie Butts, in his November 221, 2008 article – forget?
Yes on 8 Folk Threaten No on 8 Donors
Fri Oct 24, 2008
Here’s a new way to get campaign donors in a tight race: contact the opposition’s supporters and threaten that they donate the same amount to you or else.
That’s exactly what the Yes on 8 campaign did this week in a letter to a San Diego realtor who had donated to the LGBT civil rights non-profit Equality California. The letter, signed by the Yes on 8 campaign chairman Ron Prentice reads, “If you were to elect not to donate comparably it would be a clear indication you are in opposition to traditional marriage. The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.”
The No on 8 campaign is calling it a brazen intimidation tactic for supporters of LGBT rights.
“These are businesses that donated to Equality California that are being targeted in what certainly smacks of a small time extortion campaign,” says National Center for Lesbian Rights Director Kate Kendell. “As we talk to colleagues that have been involved in political campaigns, even some rough and tumble ones, they've never seen these tactics used so brazenly, an actual letter threatening due harm to corporations signed by a campaign executive committee.”
Additional details and the names of those who sent the letter were provided in an October 23, 2008 report by Lisa Leff of the Associated Press:
Calif. gay marriage ban backers target businesses
Leaders of the campaign to outlaw same-sex marriage in California are warning businesses that have given money to the state's largest gay rights group they will be publicly identified as opponents of traditional unions unless they contribute to the gay marriage ban, too. …
“Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error,” reads the letter. “Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. ... The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.”
The letter was signed by four members of the group’s executive committee: campaign chairman Ron Prentice; Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference; Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Andrew Pugno, the lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com. A donation form was attached. …
And then, of course, there’s the irrefutable fact that Don Wildmon and his American Family Association have launched boycotts against several companies that supported civil equality for all citizens. Disney, Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble, Ford Motor Company, Hallmark, and McDonald’s have all been the subject of Wildmon-led boycotts. AFA’s latest target is PepsiCo.
When the sanctimonious Christian Right boycotts and blacklists companies it’s “justified,” but when others do the same it’s not. Can there be any more precise definition of “hypocrisy”? Or perhaps that should be spelled “hypocri$y:”
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which watches extremist groups and began watching conservative Christian advocacy groups like the AFA after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the nation’s sodomy laws, said the AFA’s media savvy in targeting well-known corporations and TV shows is simply a way to raise money.
“Boycotts like theirs do chase some advertisers away, but they are replaced by other advertisers,” Potok said. “But it helps them raise money.” …
As Bill Berkowitz pointed out in his April 19, 2007 article “Still Cranky After All These Years,”
According to AFA’s 2005 IRS 990 (its tax return), founder Donald E. Wildmon received about $110,000 with benefits, plus over $30,000 in expense account and other allowances – including a housing allowance of over $31,000. AFA president Tim Wildmon got about $100,000, and the organization's secretary, Forrest Daniels, received slightly more than $80,000.
The organization gives ‘scholarships’ to any full time employee at ‘any accredited college or university,’ which added up to about $54,000 in scholarships. As the blog Kevin's Spacepointed out on March 30 , “the kids of these people get their university education paid for, with funds that are donated, supposed to fight for the family. But it is clear the people who benefit are the Wildmon family.”
One can only assume Mr. Wildmon’s salary and perks have increased substantially since 2005, as have the assets of AFA. In his July 21, 2008 article “Gay Marriage to End ‘Culture Wars’?” Mr. Berkowitz noted that the American Family Association “has an annual budget exceeding $15 million and net assets of more than $30 million; it feeds programming to nearly 200 radio stations, [and] employs about 100 at its home-base” in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Apparently selective reading and Bible-thumping to promote bigotry is a lucrative business. Live large by promoting bigotry and hate… and then claim to be a victim. That’s the Wildmon Way.
A November 20, 2008 OneNewsNow article by Charlie Butts underscored the victimizer’s hypocrisy:
Gay activists engage in ‘hate crimes’ against Christians
Homosexual militants have been conducting legal demonstrations in opposition to Proposition 8’s victory in the election; however, one Christian believes the increased attacks and harassment of supporters of traditional marriage are illegal and should be treated as such. …
Dr. Gary Cass of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) is calling on law enforcement to provide protection … “Had the same level of violence and rhetoric been directed toward homosexuals or their groups, there would be accusations of hate crimes,” he suggests. …
Wildmon’s American Family Association, James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council, and “Lucky Louie” Sheldon’s Traditional Values Coalition have vehemently argued against hate-crime legislation that included gay and lesbian Americans. Their partyline has always been all crimes should be treated equally, and that gay people don’t deserve “special protection” since, they argue, sexual orientation is a choice. But virtually all legitimate medical and scientific research strongly suggests homosexuality is not a choice.
Researchers are finding common biological traits among gay men, feeding a growing consensus that sexual orientation is an inborn combination of genetic and environmental factors that largely decide a person's sexual attractions before they are born.
Such findings – including a highly anticipated study this winter – would further inform the debate over whether homosexuality is innate or a choice, an undercurrent of the recent Proposition 8 campaign in which television commercials warned that “schools would begin teaching second-graders that boys could marry boys,” suggesting homosexuality would then spread.
Some scientists say the political and moral debate over same-sex marriage frequently strayed from established scientific evidence, including comments by vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that homosexuality is “a choice” and “a decision.”
On the other hand, “religion” is clearly “a choice.” One can change religions on a daily basis. But now, those who chose to be Christian fundamentalists or Bible literalists and used their “religion” as a means to deny some American citizens equal civil rights want “special protection.” Hypocrisy 101.
Ms. Malkin claimed “Conservatives took their lumps and began the peaceful post-defeat process of self-flagellation, self-analysis and self-autopsy.” Wrong again.
Gay Marriage Opponents Want Prop 8 Retroactively Enforced
SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Lawyers for the Yes on 8 campaign said they would argue the California Supreme Court should not only uphold the state ban on gay marriage but invalidate same-sex weddings performed before November 5. …
“The biggest question mark right now is the question of what happens to the marriages that were valid when they were performed, but now the constitution says they are not recognized,” said Yes on 8 attorney Andrew Pugno.
The Christian Right and their conservative allies are hardly, as Ms. Malkin claimed, inertly introspective. They are actively still trying to hurt American citizens and their families. Watch the Olbermann clip again. Why is hurting gay and lesbian Americans and their families the prime directive of ultra-conservatives and the Christian Right? Answer: Schadenfreude, plain and simple.
Amendments that restrict civil marriage rights of same-sex couples – such as Proposition 8 that recently passed in California – have led to higher levels of stress and anxiety among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults, as well as among their families of origin, according to several new studies the American Psychological Association said Wednesday [November 19, 2008]. …
Brent Mallinckrodt, Ph.D., editor of the Journal of Counseling Psychology, said the three articles provide empirical evidence of the harmful psychological and emotional effects of such measures.
“This information is especially timely, as we see the emotionally charged reactions from LGBT people in the wake of the Proposition 8 passage in California,” he said. “Psychologists serving LGBT clients and their families need to be aware of the real impact of these political forces on the everyday lives of the people most directly affected.”
So please, Ms. Segelstein, Ms. Malkin, Mr. Butts, and your brethren bigots who hide behind perverted religion, don’t play victim when you are, in reality, the victimizer. You would do well to read “Gay Christians Embody the Best of the Philosophy of Jesus” by Steve Shives.
Gay and lesbian Americans only wanted equality and the same civil right to marry that you have. You and the Christian Right used deception, misrepresentation and bogus arguments to scare people into denying them that equality. And you’re still doing it.
You and the Christian Right perverted and used religion in a campaign to revoke an existing civil right. Are you proud of yourselves? Do you feel self-righteous?
But in a way, you may have helped. You’ve made the LGBT community and its allies stronger, more united, and more determined than ever. The house of cards you’ve built on deceptions, misrepresentations and distortions will inevitably fall. And no amount of Mormon money – or their “magic underwear” – will prevent equality’s ultimate victory and history’s relegating you to ignominy… which is exactly where you belong.
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