Fox News figures, in defending Chick-fil-A from criticism over its aggressive opposition to marriage equality, are covering up the restaurant's anti-gay record, which includes millions in corporate donations to groups that spread misinformation about LGBT individuals and marriages.
Chick-fil-A has drawn criticism since its president, Dan Cathy, came out strongly against marriage equality, saying, among other things, that "we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.' "
In response to that criticism, which he referred to as "vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry," Fox News host Mike Huckabee declared August 1 to be "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day" and asked his audience to eat at Chick-fil-A today in order to "affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse."
Fox News figures were quick to take up the charge. Fox host Eric Bolling supported the effort by asking Twitter followers to send him pictures of themselves eating at Chick-fil-A. On the July 31 edition of The Five, Bolling aired a few of the pictures, which he said showed that support for Chick-fil-A has "nothing to do with the gay rights discussion."
From the July 31 edition of Fox News' On The Record with Greta Van Susteren
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ABC again invited CNN contributor and conservative pundit Dana Loesch to be part of its This Week roundtable, even though she has promoted a conspiracy theory that her CNN co-workers described as "McCarthy-like."
On her radio show earlier this week, Loesch promoted the fringe idea that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin "is essentially a member of the female version of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim Sisterhood." The comment was the subject of a letter circulated by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacking Abedin.
From the July 26 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Members of the conservative media are attacking The Muppets for its founding company's decision to sever ties with Chick-fil-A, which supports numerous anti-gay causes. The Muppets have been called "heterophobic, anti-diversity, anti-inclusive bigots," and against family and Christian values. Conservatives, including Fox News, recently criticized The Muppets for allegedly promoting liberal propaganda in their 2011 film.
In the wake of criticism, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy recently defended the company's support of anti-marriage equality groups. In a statement on Friday, The Jim Henson Company, which partnered with Chick-fil-A on a promotion, announced that it "has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-fil-A to GLAAD."
The company's decision led to condemnation of The Muppets from several conservative commentators. American Family Association radio host Bryan J. Fischer wrote a series of tweets attacking The Muppets for being "heterophobic, anti-diversity, anti-inclusive bigots."
From the July 18 edition of The Mike Huckabee Show:
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Chick-fil-A is now confirming in no uncertain terms that the company maintains an anti-LGBT philosophy -- a stance supported in practical terms by the company's history of donations to anti-gay groups.
Although his company's policies seemed to indicate otherwise, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy previously claimed that the company is not anti-gay -- "not anti-anybody." Cathy, who on Monday foreshadowed his public comments in a blog post titled "Thought For The Week: Become A Part Of The Story," cleared up any confusion by denouncing marriage equality and its advocates in interviews published in Baptist Press and on The Ken Coleman Show over the past two days. From OnTopMag.com (emphasis added):
Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy has described gay marriage supporters as "arrogant" for going against God on marriage.
In an interview on the Ken Coleman Show, Cathy defended his company's support of groups opposed to marriage equality.
"I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said. "And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about."
Anti-gay groups and LGBT activists alike have spent the past few days arguing over a new study which allegedly finds that children of gay parents are worse off than the children of married, heterosexual parents. The study – conducted by associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus – has been the subject of intense criticism because of its deeply flawed methodology and misleading conclusions.
Lost in the debate, however, has been a discussion of what proponents of the study are actually suggesting about same-sex parents. If the study is correct, what do anti-gay activists believe it proves about gay people in general?
One of the study's most disturbing findings is that children with gay parents reported significantly higher rates of sexual abuse – including rape – by parents or adult figures as kids than children raised by married, heterosexual parents. It's unclear why rates of abuse differ between the two groups, but anti-gay activists have touted the finding as evidence of the long-disproven "gays are pedophiles" myth.
American Family Association (AFA) spokesman Bryan Fischer cited the study as evidence that allowing gay couples to adopt is "a form of sexual abuse." Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) referenced the study while arguing "you're more likely basically to get molested in a household led by two lesbians."
The claim that gays and lesbians are more likely to molest children than heterosexuals is one of the oldest and most damaging myths about homosexuality in American politics. It's the kind of homophobic propaganda that usually distinguishes typical anti-gay organizations from actual anti-gay hate groups. It's not all that surprising, then, that groups like AFA and AFTAH are so eager to promote the Regnerus study.
What's disturbing about the reaction to the study, though, is how widely it's been embraced by "moderate" anti-gay activists and organizations that have typically shied away from this kind of rhetoric. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has offered its enthusiastic endorsement of the study, as have Fox News' Dr. Keith Ablow, National Review Online's Ed Whelan, Focus on the Family, the New Jersey Family Policy Council, and others.
The biggest problem with Regenerus' study isn't just that it's junk science – it's that it gives mainstream conservatives a license to promote one of the most extreme anti-gay smears imaginable under the guise of advancing legitimate scientific inquiry.
When all is said and done, Regnerus' study won't end up providing any useful information about the impact of same-sex parenting. It will, however, reveal volumes about those who are so aggressively championing it.
Fox News' resident anti-LGBT pop-psychologist Dr. Keith Ablow published a column on Tuesday defending a flawed new study that found that children raised by married, heterosexual parents are better off than children raised by a variety of families that include a gay parent. Praising the study for its objectivity and scientific rigor, Ablow wrote:
The "no differences" theory that children of gay parents -- married or not -- do not substantially differ from the children of married, heterosexual parents has now been called into question.
In reality, the study -- authored by associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus -- has already come under widespread criticism for its misleading comparisons, arbitrary population samples, and generally abysmal methodology. Regnerus himself has spent a good chunk of this week attempting to explain away his study's glaring shortcomings. And he even admitted that none of his data can actually be used to make a judgment about whether same-sex parents are better or worse than heterosexual parents.
Despite the study's obvious shortcomings -- and the fact that it's already being misused by anti-gay groups -- Ablow warned against "silencing such research," adding that he refused to be "bullied" out of searching for the "truth" about how LGBT parents affect children:
From the June 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Conservatives are abuzz over a new study on same-sex parenting slated to appear in the July issue of Social Science Research. According to the study's lead investigator, associate sociology professor Mark Regnerus, children of heterosexual married parents score better on a number of measures of social, emotional, and relationship outcomes than the children of same-sex parents. Anti-gay groups like the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and Family Research Council (FRC), along with conservative news outlets like National Review Online and The Washington Times, are hailing the study as proof of the dangers of same-sex parenting.
In reality, the study suffers from a number of serious methodological flaws, and the political motivations of its backers should raise concerns about the survey's findings.
1. The Study Doesn't Compare Married Gay Parents To Married Heterosexual Parents. One of the most obvious flaws of Regnerus's study is that it fails to compare married same-sex parents to married heterosexual parents. Instead, the study lumps together the children all family types that include a gay parent -- regardless of the family's structure, history, marital status, etc. -- and attempts to compare them to children raised in a "still-intact biological family" (IBF). As Slate's William Saletan wrote, this grouping method is extremely problematic:
This loaded classification system produced predictable results. In his journal article, Regnerus says respondents who were labeled GF [child of a gay father] or LM [child of a lesbian mother] originated most commonly from a "failed heterosexual union." As evidence, he observes that "just under half of such respondents reported that their biological parents were once married." Most respondents classified as LM "reported that their biological mother exited the respondent's household at some point during their youth." Regnerus calculates that only one-sixth to one-quarter of kids in the LM sample—and less than 1 percent of kids in the GF sample—were planned and raised by an already-established gay parent or couple. In Slate, he writes that GF kids "seldom reported living with their father for very long, and never with his partner for more than three years." Similarly, "less than 2 percent" of LM kids "reported living with their mother and her partner for all 18 years of their childhood."
In short, these people aren't the products of same-sex households. They're the products of broken homes. And the closer you look, the weirder the sample gets. Of the 73 respondents Regnerus classified as GF, 12—one of every six—"reported both a mother and a father having a same-sex relationship." Were these mom-and-dad couples bisexual swingers? Were they closet cases who covered for each other? If their kids, 20 to 40 years later, are struggling, does that reflect poorly on gay parents? Or does it reflect poorly on the era of fake heterosexual marriages?
What the study shows, then, is that kids from broken homes headed by gay people develop the same problems as kids from broken homes headed by straight people. [emphasis added]
2. The Author Admits The Study Doesn't Establish Causation Between Same-Sex Parenting And Negative Outcomes. Despite the right-wing media's celebration of the study, even Regnerus admits that none of his findings actually establish causation between same-sex parenting and negative outcomes for children. In response to a number of commentaries that will be published alongside his study, Regnerus wrote:
I recognize, with Paul and Cynthia, that organizations may utilize these findings to press a political program. And I concur with them that that is not what data come prepared to do. Paul offers wise words of caution against it, as did I in the body of the text. Implying causation here—to parental sexual orientation or anything else, for that matter—is a bridge too far. [emphasis added]
On Saturday, Brooklyn hosted its 15th Annual Brooklyn Pride Night Parade. Fox News Radio reporter and anti-gay mouthpiece Todd Starnes was in attendance and reacted pretty much exactly how anyone familiar with Starnes would expect – by using Twitter to mock the parade's attendees:
Starnes also took to his Facebook page to complain about the event, writing:
Starnes' comments – which sound a lot like the kind of thing you'd hear from a homophobic teenager – weren't the only anti-gay remarks he made over the weekend.
From the June 4 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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UPDATE: Banfield clarified her remarks on Friday's edition of CNN's Early Start. Her statement, via Mediaite:
I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there, not only on Twitter but elsewhere. And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about. I probably misspoke and mangled words, but I want to be very clear.
When I said that incest and pedophilia involve people who don't have a choice -- victims who don't have a choice -- and then said a gay relationship, you do have a choice, they are not crimes. Gay people involved in relationships are not committing any crimes at all. However, those who perpetrate incest and perpetrate pedophilia are committing crimes. I don't know that my comments were taken in that light and I certainly hope they were, but in no way did I ever want to suggest that being gay is a choice. It is not. And I probably used the word "lifestyle choice" -- not what I meant to say at all. Being gay is not a choice; being in a voluntary gay relationship is a choice. It is not a crime. So I hope that at least clears up any of the comments I made after that story of the pastor. And in no way do I agree with or stand by any of the comments that that pastor made either.
During the Thursday edition of CNN's Early Start, co-anchor Ashleigh Banfield reported on comments made by Kansas Pastor Curtis Knapp, who recently called for the government to kill gays and lesbians. In an exclusive CNN interview, Knapp clarified his comments, stating:
We punish pedophilia, we punish incest, we punish polygamy and various things. It's only homosexuality that is lifted out as an exemption.
Banfield wasn't pleased by Knapp's attempt to compare homosexuality to pedophilia and incest. In her attempt to discredit Knapp's explanation, however, she claimed that, unlike pedophilia and incest, "homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people. It is voluntary":
BANFIELD: Pedophilia is not by choice, last I checked. In his sermon, Pastor Knapp blamed the Bush administration for its tolerance of gay people. Says that he claims that set the stage, in fact, for the Obama administration to endorse same-sex marriage. Like I said, you can't make this stuff up. Unbelievable. Speechless, right?
BANFIELD: Again, we gotta outline here, when he says "they punish incest and pedophilia," please. Those things are often not by choice and are crimes. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice by people. It is voluntary.
While Banfield was clearly trying condemn Knapp's anti-gay remarks, she ended up doing a lot more harm than good.
A person's sexual orientation is not a "lifestyle choice" or voluntary - it is an immutable part of their identity. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), "most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation." Scientific research has demonstrated that a person's sexual orientation is not a matter of choice but rather "primarily neurological at birth." According to molecular biologist Dean Hamer, sexual orientation is regarded in the scientific community as a phenotype and is "deeply rooted in biology."
More importantly, the claim that gay people can simply choose to not be gay is a favorite talking point of some of the country's most notorious anti-gay organizations. Groups like the National Organization for Marriage, Family Research Council, American Family Association have all used the idea that gay people can voluntarily change their sexual orientation as a justification for denying equality to gays and lesbians. The "lifestyle choice" myth is also at the heart of efforts to "cure" gay people through "ex-gay" therapy, which has been discredited as ineffective and potentially harmful by nearly every major professional medical organization in America.
In other words, in her attempt to mock Knapp's extreme anti-gay remarks, Banfield ended up reinforcing one of the right's most damaging myths about LGBT people.
"Unbelievable" is right.
From the May 24 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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