A �New Vision� prompts a new low
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 11, 2006, 01:09

When needed, should members of a family and their children have unfettered access �to vital government support programs, including but not limited to: affordable and adequate health care, affordable housing, a secure and enhanced Social Security system, genuine disaster recovery assistance, welfare for the poor�? The so-called �pro-family� lobby doesn�t think so.

When issued its New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships statement on July 26 so-called �pro-family� groups immediately denounced it. The belligerent rhetoric and irrational assertions made by Janice Crouse of the Beverly LaHaye Institute at Concerned Women for America were widely quoted. These were featured in Focus on the Family�s CitizenLink story:

�I think it�s a declaration of war . . . It�s a warning for those of us that value the traditional family -- where there�s a mother and a father and their children, either biological or adopted.

�This document very clearly says, �Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or of relationships.� They are clearly going for redefinition of what it means to be a family." [italics added]

The below remarks appeared in the story run by Agape Press, the propaganda organ of Don Wildmon�s American Family Association. The article bore the disingenuous titled �CWA Sounds Alarm Over New Anti-Family Strategy Gearing Up�:

�They want to tear down all the norms and eliminate all barriers, [and] they declare that traditional marriage should not be legally and economically privileged over all other forms of �family.�� [italics added]

How can attempts to protect all families be �anti-family�?

Crouse saw the document as �a declaration of war.� The Christian Right does so love to see everything in terms of war, the ultimate expression of hate. That says a great deal about their collective psyche. But, playing along with the metaphor, the �New Strategic Vision for All Our Families� document does represent an �assault,� but certainly not on �traditional families.� It targets exclusivity, segregation, bigotry and the notion that everyone must be and live as the Christian Right dictates. It also challenges government favoring some American families over others.

No one has ever argued that the ideal environment for children isn�t a loving, supportive home with their biological parents: what�s come to be romanticized as the Ozzie and Harriet �traditional family.� But with a divorce rate of almost 50 percent, such entities are not today�s norm. Moreover, so-called �traditional families� are relatively new in the history of �families.� Had Crouse bothered to check history texts or the Oxford English Dictionary she�d have discovered that the definition of �family� has changed substantively over the centuries. The first three historical definitions of �family� in the OED make the �traditional� point:

  1. a. The servants of a house or establishment; the household.

  2. a. The body of persons who live in one house or under one head, including parents, children, servants, etc.

  3. a. The group of persons consisting of the parents and their children, whether actually living together or not; in wider sense, the unity formed by those who are nearly connected by blood or affinity.

The �pro-family� lobby makes the same point every time they use the label �traditional family.� If there were only one kind of �family,� the adjective would not be needed. By using it, they implicitly acknowledge the reality and legitimacy of other types of families, which is exactly the message of the �New Strategic Vision for All Our Families.�

�Marriage� has a similar history. Traditionally marriage was a secular contract meant to protect property. The wife was part of that property. In biblical times, multiple wives were �traditional� (Genesis 4:19, Exodus 21:10, 2 Samuel 5:13, 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, 14:3, 1 Kings 11:3, 2 Chronicles 11:21). The tradition of arranged marriages meant to secure estates or political power has a much longer history than what Crouse and the Christian Right like to call �traditional marriage,� which is really a rather meaningless phrase much like �traditional family.�

Crouse�s statement that �They want to tear down all the norms and eliminate all barriers� is sophomoric hyperbole married to grotesque generalizations meant to illicit fear and engender further bigotry and discrimination. It also sounds very much like something a child would say while throwing a temper tantrum.

The founder and chairman of the American Family Association, Don Wildmon -- who�s in the Schadenfreude business of hurting gay and lesbian families -- launched his own direct, hysterical tirade using the same sophomoric hyperbole and fear-mongering:

We have repeatedly said the agenda of those pushing homosexual marriage will lead to polygamy and a total devaluation of marriage. Not content with �the narrow terms of the marriage debate,� the pro-homosexual advocates are now declaring, �Legal recognition for a wide rage of relationships, households and families -- regardless of kinship or conjugal status.� They also demand, �Access for all, regardless of marital or citizenship status, to vital government support programs, including but not limited to health care, housing, Social Security and pension plans, disaster recovery assistance, unemployment insurance, and welfare assistance.�

In short, they want to totally redefine our society by eliminating the very concepts of marriage and family, and the battle to redefine traditional marriage is just the beginning. . . . [italics added]

Wildmon�s wild-eyed, nostrils-flared generalizations are histrionic nonsense. Gays and lesbians have been fighting for the right to marry. It hardly seems likely they are now attempting to eliminate �the very concept of marriage,� something that is quite impossible. The document Wildmon is livid about offers a new vision �for all our families.� That hardly seems like an attempt to eliminate the concept of �family,� something else that is quite impossible.

Is it coincidental that faith-based politicians and the Christian Right chose now to regurgitate old and concoct new, incredibly vulgar attacks on gay Americans? First, consider the regurgitated comments by a GOP candidate for attorney general in Georgia:

In an interview with the Christian news service Agape Press, Republican candidate for Georgia attorney general Perry McGuire said that allowing gay clubs to meet in schools is �much like allowing a pedophile club or a gambling club to meet at school.� . . .

In the interview McGuire described the GSA [Gay-Straight Alliance] as a �gay sex� club. �I think the problem here, and I think where the court substantially erred [in ordering a GSA club be allowed to meet at White County High School in Georgia], is that the intent of the act was never to allow organizations that advocate illegal activity [to have campus access],� he told Agape Press. �And in Georgia, sex between minors is illegal; statutory rape laws apply.�

�Homosexual activist clubs in schools are detrimental to students and to the moral well-being of society,� he continued.

How could a man with such blind bigotry -- not to mention wide-eyed irrationality -- possibly be an impartial attorney general? He even missed the fact that �GSA� means Gay-Straight Alliance. GSAs are not �gay clubs� at all, much less �gay sex� clubs. Their membership includes gay and straight students. Their purpose is to foster understanding. What is clearly detrimental to all students and to the �moral well-being of society� is homophobic bigots that intentionally lie in order to teach hate.

But Perry McGuire was outdone by a spokesman for Alan Keyes� Christian �declarationist� organization, Renew America, and his incredibly vile accusations:

An organizer for the conservative Renew America is under fire for linking homosexuality with infant pedophilia.

�The newest thing in Chicago, it�s becoming a trend, and you�re gonna find this hard to believe . . . sex with infants,� Guy Adams told an Internet radio show hosted by fellow conservative Stacy L. Harp.

Adams . . . offered no evidence to back up his claims of infant pedophilia . . .

�It�s not enough that they have . . . you know when you engage in perversion, and homosexuality is perversion . . . pretty soon that perversion is like addiction, it�s not enough, so you need to graduate to something else. You need to move on. So now they�re having sex with animals, a small group that�s getting bigger, sex with infants, sex in the street in Chicago out in the open, it�s just getting more and more perverted.�

Adams dismissed the contributions of GLBT people to society by saying, �what contributions, AIDS, pornography?�

He also referred to gay people as �a very angry and violent group when confronted with the truth.� [italics added]

Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen was absolutely correct when he called Adams� remarks �a new low in gay bashing. . . . The slurs by Adams are a shameful attempt to dehumanize an entire community and he has taken anti-gay propaganda to a disgraceful nadir.�

That Adams offered no evidence to support his claim of infant pedophilia is not surprising. �Truth� had nothing to do with his comments. Their sole purpose was to promote bigotry and incite the type of hatred that inevitably spawns violence.

Adams� accusation bears a striking resemblance to those made by Paul Cameron, sadistic homophobe and ersatz psychologist who once proposed gay men be forcibly castrated. Cameron was discredited by and expelled from the American Psychological Association, the Nebraska Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association, yet his �studies� are still used by the Christian Right -- including Wildmon�s American Family Association -- and their associates in the campaign against gay Americans. Perhaps Adams got his idea for the �infant pedophilia� allegation from Cameron�s article �Homosexual Rape And Murder Of Children� in which he claimed the majority of people who commit rape and murder are gay.

Being ignorant of the major contributions made by homosexuals throughout human history is one thing, but for Adams to assert that gays are responsible for AIDS and pornography is . . . well, just plain stupid. And that is the most appropriate word.

HIV is responsible for AIDS which, globally, currently afflicts far more heterosexuals than homosexuals. �Pornography� has its roots in hetero-sexual desire and behavior, as the etymology of the word attests: �Greek pornographos, adjective, writing about prostitutes, from porne prostitute + graphein to write; akin to Greek pernanai to sell, poros.� History continues that etymology: the vast majority of today�s porn industry is heterosexually oriented, and doing quite well financially.

Adams claimed gays are a �very angry� group. If gay people are angry it�s because of malicious bigots like Adams, Cameron, Crouse, Wildmon, and the other sanctimonious members of the Christian Right, some of whom have used the Bible to suggest executing gays would be the �righteous� thing to do. Cameron was more direct:

�At the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, Cameron announced to the attendees, �Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.� According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.� -- Mark E. Pietrzyk, News-Telegraph, March 10, 1995.

Adams also claimed gays are a �violent group.� Meanwhile, he incites hatred and the violence it inevitably spawns. Cameron and others suggest forced castration and/or execution of gays. So who�s the real �violent group�?

Like all phobias, homophobia is an irrational fear. Like all prejudices, it produces a malignant mental state that justifies anything necessary to hurt what it fears. For homophobes, their ends justify any means.

To ask why Crouse, Wildmon, Adams, Cameron, and the rest of the Christian Right fear homosexuals and scorn their families so much that they�re willing to hurt children is futile. They do, and they are determined to continue doing so. They define themselves by that irrationality and desire to harm to strangers.

All Americans need to ask themselves if that sort of irrationality and desire to harm others are qualities they want defining our society. And while pondering that, consider the message of Rev. Gregory A. Boyd, pastor of Woodland Hills Church, an evangelical megachurch in suburban St. Paul, Minn.:

Before the last presidential election, he preached six sermons called �The Cross and the Sword� in which he said the church should steer clear of politics, give up moralizing on sexual issues, stop claiming the United States as a �Christian nation� and stop glorifying American military campaigns.

Amen, Rev Boyd. Amen . . .

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