6.28.2009

Must you legitimize this man?

I read an article in the Times about political shifts and public opinion about gay rights with some bemusement. It's headline kind of says it all:

Political Shifts on Gay Rights Lag Behind Culture

You think? Anyhow, the article goes on to describe how, while public acceptance of gay marriage and open service in the military continues to increase, you'd never know it from watching the glacial pace of reform in DC. The article is interesting, but it's really only a rehash of information well-known to those of us who care a lot about the issues in question. (Side note -- the accompanying photo of the anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which I can't reproduce here, has captured on film two of the gayest men I have ever seen.)

But what bugs the snot out of me is that the Times decided to quote the insufferable Tony Perkins for the article:
Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a group that opposes gay rights initiatives, said Mr. Obama’s reluctance to push more assertively for gay rights reflected public opinion.

“He’s given them a few minor concessions; they’re asking for more, such as ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ being repealed,” Mr. Perkins said. “The administration is not willing to go there, and I think there’s a reason for that, and that is because I think the American public isn’t there.”

There are sooooooo many things that bug me about this.

First of all, can someone please explain to me what is so damn "family" about the "Family Research Council"? I went to their website, and for the life of me I found precious little that has to do with actual, real-life, flesh and blood families. There's a whole hell of a lot about the socially conservative politics they promote, but not much I could see that had to do with making parents and kids healthier, happier or more successful. (The closest I could find was a page about tax cuts for families, and a surprisingly sane page about the HPV vaccine.) There is something distinctly Orwellian about seizing the word "family" and conflating it with religious conservatism. (Maine's own odious Michael Heath has followed this lead, and has changed the name of his increasingly irrelevant "Maine Christian Civic League" to the equally-inaccurate "Maine Family Policy Council.") The only message about families that I get from these organizations is that mine doesn't count.

But, beyond that, can someone please explain to me why the head of an ultraconservative "family" organization is holding forth on Don't Ask, Don't Tell? What on God's green earth does that have to do with families? Moreover, he is not a neutral observer of public perception regarding certain military policies. Part of the reason that the American public "isn't there" is because reactionary theocratic fear-mongers like him have held it back. Why is the Times treating him as some kind of expert when his entire relevance and raison d'etre are based on creating the exact same perceptions as they are quoting him about? They quote him about a perception that is enhanced by their quoting him, in an inane Ouroboros of reinforced status quo.

It doesn't help his credibility that he is flagrantly wrong, of course. From later in the same article:
A New York Times/CBS News poll last spring found that 57 percent of people under 40 said they supported same-sex marriage, compared with 31 percent of respondents over 40. Andy Kohut, the president of the Pew Research Center, said the generational shift was reflected in his polling, in which the number of Americans opposing gay people serving openly in the military had dropped to 32 percent now from 45 percent in 1994.
So, in the past fifteen years, the number of people opposed to open military service for gays and lesbians has fallen from a minority to an even smaller minority? Gallup has found that even the majority of self-described conservatives support ending DADT.

So, if Tony Perkins clearly doesn't know what he's talking about, and is the head of a deeply biased organization whose ambit is "the family" and not military policy, why the hell is the Times legitimizing him?

Liberal media bias, my eye.

3 comments:

  1. The Family Research Council is the progeny of Focus on the Family, which also focuses less on families than on its political agenda. Since it's been years since I've seen FOTF material, perhaps I'm making an unfair assumption. But I don't have much use for either group.

    Barbara

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  2. Danny, maybe you should start an organization called The Sacred American Family Organization, and promote the hell out of every Liberal thing out there. Maybe I will start one called Jesus loves families and children first, and will dedicate its existence to gay families with Children.

    charo

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  3. Three times I tried (failed miserably) to place a comment here but it degenerated into squalid thoughts when it comes to Heath, Perkins and Mr. Obama. By the way here is the WH email address for comments. http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

    I use this as a daily reminder of the promises made to the Gay Community regarding DOMA and DADT.

    Jim

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