Uganda, Scott Lively, Arizona, Mark Regnerus, Gay Denialism, and the connection between them

You wouldn’t necessarily think there’s a connection between antipathy toward homosexuality and with being Christian (*footnote below), and I have no particular animosity against Christianity any more than other religions (all of which I find unpersuasive and obsolete, if not oppressive), yet again and again the hostility toward gays, especially in recent weeks and months, turns out to be religiously inspired –- by Christianity. It is hard for me to find much respect for a religion whose most outspoken representatives devote their lives (they have nothing better to do?) to marginalizing if not criminalizing people like me.

The most prominent current example is the horrific law in Uganda that criminalizes homosexuality with life imprisonment — a law inspired by US evangelist Scott Lively, and his ilk, apparently frustrated that they couldn’t get such laws passed in the US. (Lively also helped Russia with its “anti-gay propaganda” laws.)

Today Towleroad points to Lively’s latest rant: Scott Lively is Nuts (I’m not providing a direct link to Lively’s site).

If you can stomach reading it, the man directly responsible for fomenting hate that led to anti-gay laws in Russia and Uganda, bemoans that homosexualism results in a loss of critical thinking skills, which is why homosexuals – and heterosexual supporters – somehow manage to confuse bigotry as “intolerant” or “hateful.”

As Huffington Post’s Michelangelo Signorile points out,

It’s widely known that Scott Lively, the American evangelist who published a book erroneously claiming that homosexuality gave rise to the Nazis, sowed the seeds of hate in Uganda beginning years back. … Matt Barber and Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel/Liberty University recently praised laws like those in Nigeria and Uganda that criminalize LGBT people. A new coalition of these groups has now formed to push homophobia across the globe. So while we’re hopefully beating back this law in Arizona, with anti-gay forces claiming it’s about religious freedom and not about discrimination, keep in mind that their goal — as they travel to places like Russia, as Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage did last year, supporting that country’s “gay propaganda” law — is to see homosexuality criminalized and punished around the world. And as Bryan Fisher of the American Family Association told me in an interview, that is exactly what they’d like to bring back to America as well.

Then there’s the discredited Mark Regnerus psychological study of children with gay parents, a study still being used (this week!) in legal challenges by opponents of same sex marriage — a study that was inspired and funded by religious organizations already hostile to the notion. New York Times:

Among those at the Heritage meetings was Luis E. Tellez, president of the Witherspoon Institute, a religious-conservative research center in Princeton, N.J. His organization seized the baton, signing up Dr. Regnerus, who was known as a skilled quantitative researcher, mainly on adolescent sexuality and religion, and as a Roman Catholic and opponent of same-sex marriage.

What a surprise he came up with the conclusions he did. Of course, the only people who found the study persuasive were those who shared his bias. In contrast,

Professional rejections of Dr. Regnerus’s conclusions were swift and severe. In a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court last year in two same-sex marriage cases, a report by the 14,000-member American Sociological Association noted that more than half the subjects whom Dr. Regnerus had described as children of “lesbian mothers” and “gay fathers” were the offspring of failed opposite-sex marriages in which a parent later engaged in same-sex behavior, and that many others never lived with same-sex parents.

“If any conclusion can be reached from Regnerus’s study,” the association said, “it is that family stability is predictive of child well-being.”

There were only two lesbian couples who’d raised children within committed relationships in his study, and no gay couples at all.

Today, Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern identifies another, far more abstruse tack.

Gay Denialism is the New Homophobia.

Stern reacts to an article (in a philosophical religious magazine called First Things) by one Michael W. Hannon, who argues that gays don’t exist, only gay sex acts, and since gays don’t exist, they deserve no legal recognition. Why would Hannon think that? Because he’s

an advocate of “Christian chastity” looking to turn the “tragedy” of all non-procreative sex — with a recurring focus on homosexuality — into an “opportunity” to promote his cause. His only aim is to free Christians from the sinful shackles of sexual orientation; his message is not one of hatred, but of love, peace, and faith.

Spare me his Christian love! Stern comments,

Given that Hannon’s ultimate argument rests in his personal exegesis of biblical text, I’m not sure why he takes such great pains to lecture gays on the various theoretical reasons that their identity is an illusion. His interpretation of his religion commands him to revile homosexuality; since he begins with this conclusion, the majority of his cogitations are essentially irrelevant.


*There are two or three other general reasons people seem to object to homosexuality. One, a (rather childish) squeamishness about people who do things one finds personally distasteful. Many people get past this reflexive attitude that people who are different from them are therefore inferior by the time they become adults, but not everyone.

Two, an existential panic on the part of parents that their kids being gay would preclude them having grandchildren. This is an attitude honed by the elementary logic of natural selection, of course; members of a population indifferent to having offspring, and their offspring having offspring, would not, to the extent this attitude is genetic, last long in the population.

A third would be the deep-seated biological protocols of species survival, which homosexuality would seem to (but in practice does not always) violate. This too, ironically, is an instinct built by evolution, a concept those who express this objection most strongly no doubt don’t “believe” in.

(So evolutionary speaking, why does homosexuality exist? An unsolved question, though with several potential explanations. Humans are not simple reproductive machines, optimized to generate offspring above all else, would be the general answer.)

All of these issues, especially the last, I ponder discussing in later posts.

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