Copied from: Southern Poverty Law Center
By Evelyn Schlatter and Robert Steinback
Ever since born-again singer and orange juice pitchwoman Anita Bryant helped kick off the contemporary anti-gay movement some 40 years ago, hard-line elements of the religious right have been searching for ways to demonize gay people — or, at a minimum, to find arguments that will prevent their normalization in society. For the former Florida beauty queen and her Save Our Children group, it was the alleged plans of gay men and lesbians to “recruit” in schools that provided the fodder for their crusade. But in addition to hawking that myth, the legions of anti-gay activists who followed have added a panoply of others, ranging from the extremely doubtful claim that sexual orientation is a choice, to unalloyed lies like the claims that gay men molest children far more than heterosexuals or that hate crime laws will lead to the legalization of bestiality and necrophilia. These fairy tales are important to the anti-gay right because they form the basis of its claim that homosexuality is a social evil that must be suppressed — an opinion rejected by virtually all relevant medical and scientific authorities. They also almost certainly contribute to hate crime violence directed at the LGBT community, which is more targeted for such attacks than any other minority group in America. What follows are 10 key myths propagated by the anti-gay movement, along with the truth behind the propaganda.
MYTH # 4
LGBT people don’t live nearly as long as heterosexuals.
(Or its corollary: “Homosexuals live sad, unhappy, unfulfilled lives. (So don’t give in to Satan and become one of these sad, unhappy creatures…hint, hint, hint)”
Anti-LGBT organizations, seeking to promote heterosexuality as the healthier “choice,” often offer up the purportedly shorter life spans and poorer physical and mental health of gays and lesbians as reasons why they shouldn’t be allowed to adopt or foster children.
This falsehood can be traced directly to the discredited research of Paul Cameron and his Family Research Institute, specifically a 1994 paper he co-wrote entitled “The Lifespan of Homosexuals.” Using obituaries collected from newspapers serving the gay community, he and his two co-authors concluded that gay men died, on average, at 43, compared to an average life expectancy at the time of around 73 for all U.S. men. On the basis of the same obituaries, Cameron also claimed that gay men are 18 times more likely to die in car accidents than heterosexuals, 22 times more likely to die of heart attacks than whites, and 11 times more likely than blacks to die of the same cause. He also concluded that lesbians are 487 times more likely to die of murder, suicide, or accidents than straight women.
Remarkably, these claims have become staples of the anti-gay right and have frequently made their way into far more mainstream venues. For example, William Bennett, education secretary under President Reagan, used Cameron’s statistics in a 1997 interview he gave to ABC News’ “This Week.”
However, like virtually all of his “research,” Cameron’s methodology is egregiously flawed — most obviously because the sample he selected (the data from the obits) was not remotely statistically representative of the LGBT population as a whole. Even Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has called Cameron’s methods “just ridiculous.”
Anti-LGBT organizations have also tried to support this claim by distorting the work of legitimate scholars, like a 1997 study conducted by a Canadian team of researchers that dealt with gay and bisexual men living in Vancouver in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The authors of the study became aware that their work was being misrepresented by anti-LGBT groups, and issued a response taking the groups to task.
By Evelyn Schlatter
Even as some well-known anti-gay groups like Focus on the Family moderate their views, a hard core of smaller groups, most of them religiously motivated, have continued to pump out demonizing propaganda aimed at homosexuals and other sexual minorities. These groups’ influence reaches far beyond what their size would suggest, because the “facts” they disseminate about homosexuality are often amplified by certain politicians, other groups and even news organizations. Of the 18 groups profiled below, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will be listing 13 next year as hate groups, reflecting further research into their views; those are each marked with an asterisk. Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.
It is for this active and passive demonization of law-abiding gay and lesbian Americans that the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, LCMS President Matthew Harrison, the thirty something LCMS District Presidents, and the Board of Directors of the official publishing house of the LCMS, Concordia Publishing House, must be taken to task until they apologize, cease, and desist of their bigoted, hateful, un-American behavior.
Examples of LCMS anti-Gay Hate Speech using the above myth:
“You might think that GLBT folk would be, well, gay! After all they have succeeded in transforming public opinion, turning the tide for gay marriage, breaking through nearly every barrier of business, industry, and government (even sports), and entering the mainstream. But apparently there is little happiness among the gay.” —-Rev. Larry Peters, “Pastoral Meanderings”
“This is not the primary reason there is no gaiety among the gay. To be truly gay, in the classical sense of the word, is to be happy. There can be no true happiness in a lifestyle that is focused on self-seeking, sexual promiscuity, and a denial of God. Even if the LBGT folks persuaded 99% of the population to agree with them, such that they got their way in every one of their demands, they would not be happy. They cannot be happy. Look where their focus in life is: seeking sexual pleasure through as many different sexual partners as they can manage. How can this possibly lead to happiness? The only thing they have to give to another is AIDS, which is hardly a gift!”
—Pastoral Meanderings, the blog of Rev. Larry Peters
“There is nothing healthy about unnatural desires (homosexual attraction), and there is nothing healthy in pursuing them or indulging them. The people who suffer from these desires need the same help that alcoholics need, support to abstain and channel their energies into healthy activities that interest them.” —-Pastoral Meanderings, the Blog of Rev. Larry Peters
“The biggest danger to gay students is homosexual activity. According to the CDC 20% of male homosexuals are HIV positive but half of them don’t know it. They also suffer other health conditions due to such behavior and emotional and mental problems. Teaching people to avoid such behavior and to cope with unnatural desires in healthier ways is merciful. Celebrating homosexuality gives those who are tempted the false impression that they can live that lifestyle in a healthy way. That simply isn’t true. And it is abusive to tell them lies. The out and proud people are not healthier. They just have different problems. The (gay) man (under discussion in the post) himself is case and point. He is abusive towards others. That is a sign of being emotionally maladjusted. There is nothing healthy about unnatural desires, and there is nothing healthy in pursuing them or indulging them. The people who suffer from these desires need the same help that alcoholics need, support to abstain and channel their energies into healthy activities that interest them.”
—Pastoral Meanderings, the Blog of Rev. Larry Peters