Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council

Earlier this week, I published a post detailing how the National Organization for Marriage was using a junk science study to prop up another discredited study. This post put me in the mind to repeat six techniques used by religious right groups in order to dehumanize and bear false witness against the lgbt community. I’ve listed them before but a reminder is in order.


1. Using nonrepresentative or out of date studies to make generalizations, or distorting legitimate studies to give misleading conclusions about gays.

Example 1:

“In a major Canadian centre, life expectancy at age twenty for gay and bisexual men is eight to twenty years less than for all men. If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged twenty years will not reach their sixty-fifth birthday. Under even the most liberal assumptions, gay and bisexual men in this urban centre are now experiencing a life expectancy similar to that experienced by all men in Canada in the year 1871.” – Getting it Straight, Family Research Council


Truth – In 2001, the researchers of this study complained about how it was being misused. They explained what they actually meant and how it is not feasible to use their work to claim that gay men have a “short life span.”

Example 2:

Alan P. Bell and Martin S. Weinberg studied 574 white male homosexuals, 100 percent of whom had already had at least three sexual partners, 97 percent at least ten, 75 percent at least one hundred, and 28 percent at least one thousand. – House Dems Try to Hide Homosexual Agenda on “Bullying” Bill, American Family Association of Michigan

Truth – Bell and Weinberg’s study was compiled in the 1970s. They used the study to write the book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity among Men and Women. In Homosexualities is this statement:

“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.” 

2. Repetition – No matter how many times a religious right factoid about the lgbt community has been proven to be false, keep repeating it as truth. An unfortunate example of this was shown last week by Religious Right Watch. When a study created by Mark Regnerus about the so-called effects of gay parenting was discredited several times in this country, it was referred to and repeated in Russia as evidence of why the country needed to “crack down” on its lgbt citizens.

3.  Conspiracy Theory:

Example:

The ultimate goal of homosexual-rights activists is not to legalize same-sex marriage. Rather, it is to silence those who disagree with them and, if necessary, to throw them in jail. In a world in which the biblical viewpoint of marriage is demonized, it does not take a constitutional scholar to predict that soon those who hold that view will find themselves in court. – Gary Bauer, June 7, 2013, The Washington Times

4. Dire Consequences 

Example: 

NOM is working all across the country to wake people up to the fact that redefining marriage poses an enormous and imminent threat to our precious religious liberties. But we need your help to reach more people and build the grassroots coalition needed to stop these abuses in their tracks. Please click here right away to support NOM’s work to defend marriage and the religious liberties of individuals who stand up for it. – National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown in a recent fundraising letter.

5. Phony Experts – Religious right groups generally don’t recruit unbiased third parties in their information gathering. They create their own experts on the subject of homosexuality. And these phony experts are usually in-house employees or members of affiliated groups who already have anti-gay biases. They also have no training or background in what they claim to have expert opinions on. It seems that their titles are dependent on how well they look in the media, or how adept they can apply spin.  An example of this would be Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council. He has testified in front of several legislative houses across the country on the subject of lgbt equality and has been interviewed or referred to as an “expert” on several news programs and in major newspapers. However, his bio on the Family Research Council webpage says that he is a pastor, a former actor, and “as economic development assistant to the late Congressman Robert F. Drinan (D-Mass.)” Nothing says that he is an expert in the field of human sexuality or has conducted any studies in the same field.

6. Dehumanizing Semantics – In order for their arguments to gain more power, the anti-gay industry tries to dehumanize gays and lesbians in the eyes of the public. To them, it is not enough to declare that homosexuality is against God’s will. They manufacture illusions of cabals out to “destroy” American values and jail Christians. To further this incorrect notion, members of the anti-gay industry often use sound bites that are repeated until they become part of the verbal lexicon. They also use phrases and verbs that covertly push the idea that gays and lesbians are aggressive outsiders.

The following phrases are just a few which have been repeatedly used to dehumanize the lgbt community

“promoting homosexuality”
“marketing homosexuality”
“endorsing homosexuality”
“teaching homosexuality”
“homosexual activists”
“radical gay agenda”
“activist judges”
“forcing their agenda on us”
“pro-homosexual”
“sodomy advocates”
“sodomy lobby”
“sexual anarchists”

I hope folks remember these techniques of distortion because they underline just the simple fact that it’s not enough for us to label anti-gay groups as bigots and we must never underestimate how they impede our goal of full equality.