Tag Archives: NOM

NOM’s “scary study results” are only scary if you lack nuance

Alvin McEwen blogged on Monday about NOM pushing a new Regnerus “study.”  McEwen rightfully points out how dishonest it is for NOM to continue pushing Regnerus’s work despite the fact that he and his work have been heavily discredited over the past several months.

What I find interesting is how NOM presents and interprets this new “study”:

Activists trying to force a redefinition of marriage on America have constantly evaded the question, “what is marriage?” Meanwhile, they have insisted that gays and lesbians simply want access to the same sacred institution of marriage and that they don’t intend to change anything about that institution.

But the survey responses from gay men and lesbians themselves don’t support these claims.

The institution envisioned by those who want to redefine marriage isn’t faithful… it isn’t exclusive… it isn’t permanent… put bluntly, it isn’t marriage.

So basically, Regnerus polls a bunch of people about a number of views and NOM tries to interpret the answers to those views as people’s understanding of what marriage is.  That’s problematic at best.

So let’s take a look at some of those views from the poll.

Viewing pornography is OK.  This one has absolutely nothing to do with marriage.  Some people look at porn.  Others don’t.  Some married people watch porn.  (Some even watch it with their married partner!)  Some don’t.  Some single people watch porn.  Some single people don’t.  Saying that viewing pornography is acceptable doesn’t really reveal much — if anything — about one’s views of marriage.

I’d also like to note that saying that viewing pornography is okay is not that same as saying that viewing pornography is never problematic.  Yes, if viewing pornography is interfering with one’s relationship(s) (by say, changing your attitudes toward the people in your life, especially your romantic partner), that’s a huge problem.  However, that does not mean that viewing pornography in general is a horrible thing.  NOM is effectively trying to use this one statement to cast everything in a black and white argument where there is much more nuance to be considered.

Premarital cohabitation is good.  Again, this statement really doesn’t tell you anything about a person’s views on marriage.  A person may think that living together before marriage is good and important and yet still consider their wedding vows of great importance when the take them.  In fact, some people promote living together before marriage because they take their wedding vows seriously and want to have a sense of how living together will work out before making the final commitment.

No-strings-attached sex is OK.  It seems to me that this one goes off the rails in various ways.  Most notably, I think it demonstrates that NOM is projecting it’s own belief that every person (excepting possibly clergy) should get married onto everyone else.  I don’t believe that every should get married.  What I believe is that LGBT people who want to get married should be allowed to do so.  If LGBT people who prefer not to get married would rather engage in no-strings sex with each other, I say more power to them.  It doesn’t change how I feel about marriage.  NOM fails to understand that the facts that I think I should be allowed to get married and that other people should be allowed to pursue other relationship and sexual choices for themselves are not contradictory.

Also, I’ll note that it’s possible to enjoy no-strings sex while single and still look forward to a more committed relationship in the future.  NOM doesn’t seem to understand that, either.  (Not surprising, as I suspect there’s a lot of ideological overlap between NOM and purity culture, which tends to at least imply that any sex outside of marriage “ruins” you for marriage.)

Couples with kids should stay married except for abuse.  You know what?  I don’t believe in auditing other people’s lives.  I think that individual families need to consider their own circumstances and work out what the best choices for themselves are.  I do not feel qualified nor do I feel I have or deserve the authority to tell them under what circumstances they are allowed to make which choices.  If NOM thinks that this means that I don’t take marriage seriously, then NOM doesn’t know me at all.  I know what my goals are for marriage.  I just realize that (1) those goals may not work for everyone and (2) they ultimately may not work out for me either.  I’m simply open to that possibility.

Marital infidelity is sometimes OK.  Okay, this is a position that I tend not to hold.  I tend to believe that if you’ve made a commitment to be in a monogamous relationship with someone, you should keep that commitment.  If you find you can’t keep that commitment, then you should either seek to renegotiate the relationship or honestly seek to end it.  Yes, I do consider ending a relationship acceptable.  So I will acknowledge that while I see marriage as ideally permanent, I accept the reality that it doesn’t always work out that way in practical terms.  But I don’t see the benefit in denying reality, so I don’t see this as some huge admittance of defeat on my part.

It is OK for 3+ adults to live in a sexual relationship.  I’m totally on board with this one, and unapologetically so.  So no, I don’t see marriage as necessarily exclusive.  I think that’s for the people involved to determine for their own relationship(s).

I just don’t see that as a horrible thing.  Truth be told, I find the idea that Christians — especially Christians who scream about “taking the Bible literally” — being anti-polyamory rather odd, anyway.  The Old Testament is full of men — men deemed Godly by the text and tradition — taking multiple wives (and concubines, no less).  And there are only two explicit prohibitions against polygamy in the Bible, both of which limit the prohibition to specific groups of people.  (That’d be the kings of Israel in t Old Testament and pastors/bishops in the New Testament.)

But setting all that aside, does the fact that I’m unwilling to condemn or criticize people who choose a polyamorous relationship really destroy my own right to enter into a legally recognized monogamous marriage?

Ultimately, it seems to me that NOM’s argument is that they only want to let people into their marriage club if those people are willing to go on policing the choices of others.  I’m not okay with that.


The “protecting traditional marriage” lie

Last Friday, I explored some of the flaws in some equality opponents’ argument that lowing same-sex marriages will further weaken heterosexual marriages.  I think it’s equally important to understand why it’s important to actually tackle this argument despite the fact that it’s not quite as commonplace as (more overtly) religious arguments against same sex marriage.  It’s importance is best understood in light of some equality opponents’ attempt to rebrand themselves as “defenders of traditional marriage.”

You see, some anti-equality organizations have figured out that being openly identifiable as anti-gay casts them in a bad light.  The National Organization for Marriage explains this with surprising candor on their “Talking Points” page:

Extensive and repeated polling agrees that the single most effective message is:

“Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, ?they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

This allows people to express support for tolerance while opposing gay marriage. Some modify it to “People have a right to live as they choose, they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”

Language to avoid at all costs: “Ban same-sex marriage.” Our base loves this wording. So do supporters of SSM. They know it causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. Don’t use it. Say we’re against “redefining marriage” or in favor or “marriage as the union of husband and wife” NEVER “banning same-sex marriage.”

They go on to explain that it’s important to stress that they defend traditional marriage no the grounds that, in their opinion, the best families have a man, a woman, and children.  Their desire is to prove that they are for this rather than against gay people having equal protections and rights.

However, there is a slight problem with this.  You will not find a single press release on NOM’s site that isn’t about stopping, banning, or repealing same sex marriage.  You will not find any press releases about them doing anything to improve the state of marriage, the rights of married couples, or providing support for struggling families.  You will not find Maggie Gallagher or Brian Brown teaching a workshop on how spouses, parents, and children can develop better communication skills, create a safer environment for honest discussion, or deal with troubling issues like peer pressure, substance abuse, or domestic violence.  The only thing NOM wants to do to “protect” marriage is keep QUILTBAG people from enjoying its benefits.  As such, their claims about “protecting marriage” are already flimsy at best.

Challenging the idea that same sex marriages would destroy “traditional marriage” – or that “saving traditional marriage” is the burden of QUILTBAG people in the first place – serves to drive the final nail into that coffin.  When organizations like NOM can no longer fool anyone into thinking that they’re doing anything productive to protect “traditional” families, they will have to admit that yes, they really are just about stopping QUILTBAG people from enjoying the same rights and protections as their favored “in-crowd.”

Or they’ll have to come up with a new lie.

Catholic Charities need to decide if they’re a religions group or an agent of the state

A third proposed version of the map showing th...

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This morning, I read an article by Michael Gormley about the status of New York legislation that could bring about marriage equality here in the Empire State.  I’ve been following this story pretty closely in my private time and am excited that my state may soon allow me to marry my (hypothetical) partner rather than requiring me to elope to Massachusetts[1].  I practically cheered to learn that they only need one more state senator to sign on to guarantee passage.

Gormley reports that the current hold-up is discussions over religious protections:

Democrats and Republicans emerged from meetings with Democratic Gov.
Andrew Cuomo and said there is progress toward proposed additional
religious protections that could bring a gay marriage bill to the Senate
floor for a vote as early as Wednesday night.

By the sounds of it, Cuomo and supporters are trying to take the teeth out of the old arguments currently be raised by the National Organization for Marriage of Moralists.  I’m a bit troubled by that, as the arguments about religious freedoms are all based on lies.  Truth be told, churches and religious organizations already have plenty of protections.  A minister or church cannot be compelled to host or perform any marriage — even any opposite sex marriage — they do not approve of.  Any stories about such nonsense (such as the Ocean Grove pavilion controversy) are usually misrepresented, and a careful examination of the facts demonstrate that the situation is not about religious freedom at all.  To be frank, the Religious Right crowd is fond of spreading misinformation to make themselves look like martyrs and to drive fear-based political action and decisions.

My pragmatic side almost wants to just shrug and give a thumbs up to the unnecessary “religious protections” that may get put into the new legislation.  After all, if such legislation forces NOM and company to shut up (or at least makes it easier for people to see their lies for what they are), then it’s not all bad.  But then, I read this part of the article (emphasis mine):

More protection for religious organizations such as adoption agencies
and marriage counselors is sought by undecided Republican senators who
are key to the vote.

You see, the mention of adoption agencies tells me that someone is thinking about situations like what’s going on with Catholic Charities in Illinois[2].  And this is the exact kind of lying that I’m talking about.  You see, NOM would have you believe that Catholic Charities in Illinois is being forced to close their adoption services if they continue discriminate against same sex couples.  However, that’s not true, unless you assume that the rich and powerful Catholic church needs government assistance to do its charity work.

You see, that’s the part that NOM and company fail to mention:  Catholic Charities operates their adoption services in Illinois (and elsewhere) under a government contract and with state funding.  And the state regulations require that any organization or business who uses taxpayer money to provide a service must not discriminate against anyone who seeks out that service.  This isn’t a case of Catholic Charities losing their religious freedom.  When it comes to their adoption services, they gave up that freedom[3] when they became a contracted agent of the state funded by that same state.

If the religious protections in this new legislation goes on to say that religious groups can offer state-funded and state-contracted services and still discriminate, then those clauses are no longer about religious protections.  They are about state endorsements of religious privilege.  They are about using taxpayer money — including gay taxpayers — to support an agent of the state who is allowed to engage in discrimination while acting as an agent of the state.

And that’s just not cool.  It’s also why even my pragmatic side cannot get behind these so-called “religious protections,” even if they do bring marriage equality to my state.  Because marriage equality that still allows religiously motivated agents of the state to discriminate against me isn’t actually marriage equality.  It’s still a form of second-class citizenship.

[1]  Seriously.  New York would consider me married right now if I went and had the ceremony in a state that already performs same-sex marriages, but will not currently allow me to have the ceremony here among my loved ones.  That’s just a strange state of affairs.

[2] This also took place with Catholic Charities in Massachusetts and looks like it will be a common theme across the country.

[3]  In fairness, they only gave up that right in terms of how they conduct their state-contracted and state-funded services.  They’re still free to give homily’s about how gay people are inherently disordered to their heart’s content.

Gay Teens, Risky Behaviors, and NOM’s bizarro world

Tuesday, I blogged about a recent CDC study that suggests that gay teens tend to engage in riskier behaviors than heterosexual teens.  Yesterday, Alvin McEwen drew attention to a blog post by Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage of Moralists that mentions this study.  Except that Brian tries to use the study to demonstrate that gay teens are “safer” in states that ban same-sex marriage than in states that have embraced such unions.  He does this by comparing some of the statistics for Wisconson and Massachusetts:

For example, about 25 percent of
Massachusetts teens who self-identify as “gay” said they had missed
schools because they felt unsafe, compared to 14 percent of Wisconsin
teens. More than half (50.5 percent) of Massachusetts gay teens said
they felt “sad or hopeless” compared to 29 percent of Wisconsin teens.
Thirty-three percent of Massachusetts gay teens attempted suicide,
compared to less than 20 percent of Wisconsin teens. Massachusetts gay
teens were about twice as likely as Wisconsin gay teens to commit a
suicide attempt serious enough to require medical care (15 percent to 8
percent). (By contrast, heterosexual teens in both states were about
equally likely to have committed a suicide attempt that required medical
care: around 2 percent.)

You see?  Brian Brown has shown that this survey says that kids do better in Wisconsin than they do in Massachusetts.  But Brown also plays with some of the figures from the study.  For example, Brown notes that a whopping 25% of Massachusetts teens that self-identify as gay miss school due to feeling unsafe, compared to 14% of teens in Wisconsin.  Those figures come out of Table 18 (page 27) of the study.  The problem is, Brian is comparing the wrong numbers.

The 14% of students in Wisconsin are students who (1) have had sexual contact and (2) have only had sexual contact with members of the same sex.  This percentage comes from a sample set that is defined by sexual activity, not self-identity.  That is a qualitative difference.  The importance of that of that difference become obvious when you look at the table, find the figure that corresponds to the group of Massachusetts students specified by sexual activity rather than self-identity, and discover the comparable figure in Massachusetts drops to 12.6%.*  We have nothing to compare the Massachusetts students who self-identify as gay with, because that data is not available for the state of Wisconsin.

Brian plays this same shell game with the other statistics he cites.  Comparing the correct figures makes the results for those two states much closer** together.  The fact that Brian plays the shell game to make his argument more compelling is particularly ironic hypocritical, as the whole point of his blog post is to whine that the media and homosexual activiists play with statistics to get them to say what they want.  I’m sure that some members of the media and gay people do exactly that.  However, I know Brian Brown does it.  I just showed you where he does it.

Of course, what’s bizarre is that Brian brings up the CDC survey, not to discuss anti-gay bullying, but to defend his opposition to marriage equality by conflating the two issues:

Why is this stark clear evidence that marriage is not responsible for
gay teens’ suffering never, ever considered worthy of mention in the
debates over bullying?

The answer to Brian’s question is actually quite obvious:  No LGBT person I know considers the fact that same-sex marriage is not yet a reality to be a cause of anti-gay bullying.  No LGBT person I know considers achieving marriage equality to be the solution to ending anti-gay bullying.  GLSEN does not hand out “support marriage equality” buttons to raise awareness of or stop anti-gay bullying.  They hold the National Day of Silence.  They push schools and educators to create safe spaces for LGBT teens.  They push schools to adopt anti-bullying policies that explicitly mention LGBT students.  Dan Savage starts the It Gets Better campaign and associates it with the Trevor Project.

The only link that LGBT people make between marriage equality and anti-gay bullying is that they are both issues that arise out of the same anti-gay animus.  Beyond that, we understand that they are issues that need to be approached in different ways through solutions meant to address them appropriately.

It’s people like Brian Brown and the other folks of NOM that tend to conflate such issues.  It’s NOM who tried to link a California educational program about gender identity and bullying to marriage equality, for one example.  In reality, NOM tries to link this issue to anything that will scare people into fighting against marriage equality.  They do this because they know that they can’t stand on their anti-gay animus alone.

Brian Brown and the rest of NOM are simply projecting their bad faith tactics onto us, their opponents intended victims.

* This does raise interesting questions as to what differences there are between students who self-identify as gay and those who have actually had sexual contact exlucisvely with members of the same sex.

** I’m hoping Erin will confirm or correct me on this, but based on the CI values, I believe ate least some of these percentages are too close to really comment on which state is better or worse, statistically speaking.