There is little question that recent battles regarding same-sex marriages have energized the religious right. The Mormons have piled on, too. Truth is, they have been quietly on the offensive for years. When it comes to what they see as the sanctity of the family, they don’t pull any punches. Theirs is an entirely a pro-active strategy. Part of that strategy, I believe, is to characterize homosexuality in such a manner as to make it an eventual candidate for recriminalization. Barring that, and in this regard they are quite open, they aspire to “re-pathologize” (my term) homosexuality as a “developmental disorder” (their term).
Question: What nonprofit organization ties the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the Arizona Republican Party, the “King” of Ghana, the United Nations, John McCain challenger J.D. Hayworth, and a virulently anti-gay agenda? Try United Families International, an organization whose publicly stated exempt purpose is, “to research and educate on issues relating to the family unit and to provide humanitarian aid to disadvantaged children and families at the local, national, and international levels. Their focus, they say, is to “provide legal analysis and peer-reviewed scholarly research in support of UN delegates working to preserve the family.” Their best-known international program is the Stay Alive program, an anti-gay, abstinence-based educational program aimed at youth in African nations like Ghana.
They also publish a 40-page tract entitled: “A Guide to Family Issues: Sexual Orientation,” edited by Marcia Barlow.
To say they provide research is to stretch the definition of “research” beyond recognition. “Sexual Orientation” is a hit-piece designed to make the case for recriminalizing homosexuality.
The piece states:
- That homosexuality represents “gender confusion” and “dangerous sexual practices”
- That “sexual orientations are not innate” but are rather, “developmental disorders”
- That people can and must refuse “to act upon these feelings or seek help to overcome them”
- That homosexuality is a sexual “preference”
- That it is an “unhealthy and harmful practice that leads to injury and early death”
And that’s just the first page. The tract contains two parts: “Myth vs. Reality” and “Fast Facts and Commentary.” The central premise of the piece is that homosexual ideation and feelings are separate and distinct from homosexual actions; and that homosexual ideation can be resisted by choice. Therefore, homosexuality is a choice. As defined by UFI, homosexual behaviors are not subject to immunity from discrimination; in fact, they should be the target of discrimination. Homosexual behaviors are not subject to civil or constitutional rights claims, they are merely aberrant behaviors. Get it? Gay people are not a class of people at all, we are simply talking about a series of destructive behaviors on the parts of otherwise undifferentiated people who just happen to harbor unfortunate longings.
In all, this package of hundreds of distortions, insinuations, half-truths, lies, stale data, and decontextualized statistics adds up to One Big Lie: the pathology of homosexuality. An example:
“Seventy years of therapeutic counseling and case studies show a remarkable consistency concerning the origins of the homosexual impulse as an uncompleted gender identity seeking after its own sex to replace what was not fully developed in childhood.” [“Myth vs. Reality,” p. 1]
Therapies designed to reassign sexual orientation have been discouraged by: American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers in the USA, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and the Australian Psychological Society. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM) in 1973. The American Psychological Association concluded in 2009: “Efforts to change sexual orientation are unlikely to be successful and involve some risk of harm, contrary to the claims of SOCE [sexual orientation change effort] practitioners and advocates.”
“Fast Facts” and Lies
The “Fast Facts” section contains 145 of these trumped-up, intellectually dishonest gems, each begging to be refuted. It would take Factcheck.org years to set this propaganda to rights. Primary sources included the notorious, discredited, non-licensed psychologist Paul Cameron (featured in “Bruno”), the much-misquoted Dr. Simon LeVay (on the “gay gene” canard), and the always-dubious Family Resource Council. Twenty-year old studies on HIV were showcased in this 2004 document—which was extensively quoted just last month in a UFI blog.
1. Homosexuality is deadly.
2. Homosexuals are capable only of unhealthy, unstable relationships.
3. Homosexuals are disproportionately prone to domestic violence.
4. Homosexuals possess a predilection for child abuse.
5. Homosexuals make unfit parents.
6. Homosexuality is a choice.
7. Homosexuals can be “cured.”
8. Homosexuals are but a tiny fraction of the populace.
9. Homosexuals are not targets of a significant volume of hate crimes.
10. Homosexuals have no right to any claim upon the institution of marriage.
11. Homosexuals are a powerful interest group dedicated to taking away your rights.
12. Homosexuals want to convert your kids.
Shall I continue? There are more: homosexuals deserve no civil rights whatsoever.
Vacation in Arizona, Guys?
Here are a few Arizona political movers and shakers associated with United Families International, either explicitly or by having links to its website:
- J.D. Hayworth: Republican Senate nominee, “Gay marriage will lead to man-horse nuptials”
- Cecil Ash: Mormon, Republican State Representative, target of aggressive questioning on the birther movement by Anderson Cooper on CNN (featured on my blog last week)
- Nancy Salmon: Mormon, Former President of United Families Arizona, wife of GOP state party Chairman Matt Salmon, who lost the governor’s race to Janet Napolitano in 2002
- Trish Groa: Director, United Families Arizona, Former Republican State Representative previously forced from office after 2nd DUI conviction.
- Michael Duff: President, UFI, former Republican U.S. House member
- Laura Knaperick: UFI staff, former AZ Republican State Representative
I could go on, here, too. UFI hangs out with pretty much the entire Republican caucus in the Arizona House of Representative as the sponsor of the folksy-sounding Lunch with our Legislature event. UFI makes a fitting partner to the authors of some of the worst civil legislation since the McCarthy era.
The anti-gay case articulated in the 2004 “Guide to Family Issues” is identical to the case that has fueled Uganda’s recent legislation criminalizing homosexuality to the point of prescribing the death penalty for some. This story was forcefully recounted in the January 2010 New York Times article, “Americans’ Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push.” The article began:
“Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks…”
Political Research Associates has linked United Families International to the evangelical groups operating in Africa, represented by the likes of Scott Lively, whose book, “The Pink Swastika,” advances the notion that “homosexuals [are] the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities.”
UFI is also bent on rolling back women’s rights, reducing access to family planning, and controlling the definition of the family unit in the developing world. Their creepy video, below, explicitly links the degradation of the family with equality for women. Their work at the U.N. seeks to reverse scores of progressive family policies and implement noxious restrictions in their place. Their strategy is a two-pronged approach that includes boots on the ground in Africa with swaying the dozen most important players at U.N. headquarters in New York.
They sometimes employ the paranoiac language of the tea party. Here is Cecil Ash on UFI’s website, disparaging the 2007 “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women” (CEDAW):
“This incident served as a grim reminder that once a country signs a treaty, it cedes a portion of its sovereignty to a group of people who may or may not have the same value system, and who may or may not understand the society of the country.”
As if—no wonder this elected representative is a credulous tool of the birthers.
And here is former UFI President Beverly Rice playing fast and loose with the facts regarding the same-sex marriage bill in Maine:
“Many people do not realize the impact that the legalization of same-sex Marriage will have on their families and marriages. Local churches will be restricted on what can be said over the pulpit, they will lose the right to decide who may be wed in their buildings, and religious organizations may be forced to shut down or compromise their beliefs.”
The tea party-ish, Orwellian specter of personal freedoms lost is the siren song here. If it seems easy to dismiss—laughable even—think about the true believers who, when properly stirred-up, are ready to hit the streets with a deeply-felt anti-gay message that will make anti-Obama rallies seem like child’s play. To this audience, Obama just seems to be “The Other.” Gays really are.
UFI and its ilk don’t just keep to their corner of the country, either. Unlikely as it is for an organization based in Gilbert, Arizona, these folks really do know their way around the U.N. They stick their noses into discourse on the big wide web as well, as one a UFI insider did last week on my blog post, “30 Findings from the Tea Party Survey.” Some troll, closely aligned on Blogspot.com with UFI, Beverly Rice, and Marcia Barlow, managing editor of the “Guide to Family Issues: Sexual Orientation,” signed on to Open Salon as “Tryor” to offer a spirited, if canned, defense of Cecil Ash in the wake of his whupping by Anderson Cooper. Who knows, maybe it was Cecil Ash?
While it may be tempting to let them rant, groups like this, and there are many, are having an effect on the world stage in ways it is hard to imagine. And while Uganda may not be a test case for future directions in civil liberties in the U.S., as some have suggested, it remains a dangerous dystopia fueled with an American blend of superstition and, well, hatred of “The Other.” On the killing floor of Third-World human rights, and certainly to some unfortunate transsexual in Uganda, like Stosh Mugisha, the United Families International message can be lethal.
Just family... the story of United Families International