‘Anti-Gay Groups Active in Massachusetts: A Closer Look’ Exposes Broad Reactionary Agenda of Anti-Gay Groups
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Releases Investigative Report Targeted to Legislators and Media on Eve of Massachusetts Constitutional Convention
Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications
BOSTON, March 11, 2004 - The "Coalition for Marriage" - comprised of 15 national and local Massachusetts groups - is leading efforts to deny same-sex couples equal marriage rights in Massachusetts. These groups portray themselves as representing mainstream, respectable American "family values." The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute report, "Anti-Gay Groups Active in Massachusetts: A Closer Look" exposes that myth.
"These groups have figured out that demonizing and dehumanizing gay Americans is a cash cow for them - and they have made attacking our community their number one priority," said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. "Some of these groups claim that 'protecting marriage' is the real issue, and otherwise seek 'respect and tolerance' for gay people - in reality, the majority of these groups oppose any policy, program or legislation that provides any protection or legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Their claims of 'respect' are laughable."
All the coalition members oppose sexual orientation nondiscrimination laws, safe schools initiatives aimed at stopping harassment and violence against students perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and the inclusion of crimes motivated by anti-gay bias in hate crimes laws. The four largest coalition members lobbied against victim compensation benefits for the surviving partners of those killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Coalition members frequently talk about the power and wealth of the gay lobby. In fact, a review of income statements shows that the annual income of the "Coalition for Marriage" exceeds that of organizations advocating for equal marriage rights in Massachusetts by a margin of six to one ($168 million to $25 million).
The leading and most wealthy organizations in the "coalition for marriage" are revealed to be not conservative but reactionary. They espouse views rejected by the vast majority of the people of Massachusetts. For example, the coalition is led by the Massachusetts Family Institute, whose President is Ronald Crews. As a Georgia state legislator, Crews opposed abortion rights, sought to create "covenant marriages," which are much harder to leave, and lobbied the Georgia Department of Education to teach creationism in the classroom.
Sean Cahill, the Task Force Policy Institute Director, author of the report and a Massachusetts native is in Boston distributing the report to legislators and media.
"We urge media and legislators to take a much closer look at these organizations opposing marriage equality for thousands of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples living in this state," Cahill said. "These groups oppose any form of legal equality for gay people. They also want to ban no-fault divorce, support covenant marriages, and promote other reactionary policies."
The report profiles include information on The Massachusetts Family Institute, The Bay State Republican Council, Massachusetts Catholic Conference, Concerned Women for America and many others (see below for a brief synopsis of some of the groups profiled).
The full report can be found in the Task Force Marriage Information Resource Center at http://www.TheTaskForce.org/marriagecenter
Positions of Coalition for Marriage Members - A Sampling
The Massachusetts Family Institute
Has called for changes in Massachusetts' divorce laws to require "counseling" before divorce is granted. Links on its Web site to an excerpt from the book The Pink Swastika suggesting that Nazism is intrinsically linked to homosexuality.
Focus on the Family
Claims that "same-sex parenting situations make it impossible for a child to live with both biological parents, thus increasing their risk of abuse." Opposed efforts by New York's Republican governor and mayor to include gay partners in services and benefits for 9/11 victims as advancing the "gay agenda."
The Family Research Council (FRC)
Opposes no-fault divorce and supports requiring mutual consent of both spouses before divorce is granted. As a Louisiana legislator, FRC head Tony Perkins drafted the first "covenant marriage" law in the U.S., which "only allowed for divorce in what they saw as the biblically licit cases of adultery and abandonment."
Concerned Women for America
Called newly married gay Canadian couples seeking to enter the U.S. "a new threat to US border security," describing one couple that tried to enter as a married couple "the latest pair of 'domestic terrorists.'" Said surviving same-sex partners of those killed on 9/11 were "trying to hijack the moral capital of marriage."
Traditional Values Coalition
TVC chair Lou Sheldon said, in reference to homosexuality, "we believe in intolerance to those things that are evil; and we believe that we should discriminate against those behaviors which are dangerous to individuals and to society." In 1978 Rev. Sheldon sought to ban gay people from teaching in California and in the 1980s supported two California referenda seeking the internment of people with AIDS.
The Bay State Republican Council
Opposes "efforts to include sexual orientation as a category for preferential treatment status under civil rights statutes" and "granting homosexuals special privileges, including marriage, domestic partnership benefits, and child custody or adoption."
Massachusetts Catholic Conference
Archbishop Sean O'Malley warned that legalizing gay marriage "would worsen the breakdown of the American family and exacerbate the problems of poverty, child abuse, and human suffering already wrought by 'widespread cohabitation and galloping divorce rates.'" Earlier in 2003 the Vatican issued a statement accusing gay and lesbian parents of "doing violence" to their children by virtue of being gay.
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.
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