Truth Wins Out (TWO) condemned Focus on the Family today for distorting Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics on HIV and encouraging the very sexual behavior that spreads the disease. By doing so, Focus on the Family is promoting a culture of death and encouraging sexually active people to act recklessly and irresponsibly, says TWO.
Last week, the United States acknowledged it had underreported new cases of HIV. It revised the statistics from approximately 40,000 new infections in 2006, to 56,000 - a 40 percent increase. Focus on the Family spokesperson Jeff Johnston shamelessly exploited the revised data to oppose safer-sex practices, which would have prevented nearly all of the reported infections. Instead, he implied that gay men should marry women they did not find sexually attractive:
"Outside of a faithful marriage between a man and a woman, there is no 'safe sex,'" said Johnston. "It is irresponsible to teach people that you can have 'safe sex' or 'safer sex' outside of marriage."
"It is undeniable that safe sex works and has saved the lives of millions of people," said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. "Contrary to Focus on the Family's death-promoting dogma, there is no HIV crisis for gay or straight men who practice the very safe sex techniques that they have irresponsibly dismissed. Furthermore, how is a gay man in a relationship any more at risk than a heterosexual man in a relationship? Focus on the Family's propaganda defies science, logic and common sense."
It is also odd that Focus on the Family presumes that marriage is a panacea that makes teaching safe sex unnecessary. Mike Trout, the longtime co-host on Focus on the Family's radio program, said on Oct. 17, 2000 that he had an inappropriate relationship with a woman other than his wife.
"Right wingers should learn about condoms too, so when they cheat on their spouses, they do so safely and not bring STD's into the home," said Besen. "This is particularly true in Bible Belt states which have the highest divorce rates in the nation. It is never helpful to promote ignorance over education - and that is precisely the sex education paradigm embraced by Focus on the Family."
In a CitizenLink press release, Focus on the Family also distorted the proportion of reported HIV infections in 2006 that were attributable to men who have sex with men.
"The Centers for Disease Control reported that 53 percent -- barely half -- of new HIV infections in 2006 were attributable to MSM. Focus on the Family inflated this statistic to 'almost 60 percent' and falsely attributed this exaggeration to the CDC," said Truth Wins Out's news director Mike Airhart.
A provocative and smart article in Out Magazine discusses whether online cruising is ruining gay male culture. This is an insightful, must read piece.
Are sites like Man Hunt a gift or a curse? Is it a great place to meet potential mates, or is it a cyber den of inequity and sexual addiction? This article explores these important questions.
Harsh Republican attacks have raised worries among Democratic strategists -- haunted by John F. Kerry's 2004 run and Al Gore's razor-thin loss in 2000 -- that Obama has not responded in kind with a parallel assault on McCain's character. Washington Post interviews with nearly a dozen Democratic strategists found those concerns to be widespread, although few wished to be quoted by name while Obama's campaign is demanding unity.
"Democrats are worried," said Tad Devine, a top strategist for Kerry who thinks Obama must stay on the high road. "We've been through two very tough elections at the national level, and it's very easy to lose confidence."
Obama spokesman Burton said the campaign sees no reason to shift strategy.
"This is a classic Washington story, anonymous quotes from armchair quarterbacks with no sense of our strategy, data or plan," he said.
Is Obama wise to stay above the fray or is he allowing the McCain campaign to define him in a negative way? Should Obama strike back with a vengeance or continue down the highroad? I'd be curious to know what my readers think.
Months out from the Olympic Games, Matthew Mitcham has taken the courageous step of revealing his sexuality to the media for the first time, in an exclusive interview with the Herald. He has also applied for a grant through a Johnson & Johnson Athlete Family Support Program to have his partner Lachlan near him in Beijing. Mitcham is one of the best divers in the world and has a chance for a medal.
Despite raising an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars for the Christian right, televangelist Jerry Falwell died poor, a new book claims. That's right, he bashed fags and died in rags. Serves him right.
The pugnacious preacher apparently lost most of his fortune to a doomed investment, a $20 million "Christian community," according to investigative author Dirk Smillie in his new book "Falwell, Inc." I'm sure Falwell accepted God's will with grace and good spirits.
A lawsuit brought by Donald Hitchcock after he was dismissed from the DNC as the party's gay and lesbian outreach director, has shed light on a fissure between GLBT people and one of the party's most crucial special interest groups, African Americans.
DNC Chairman Howard Dean describes the rift in his fascinating deposition in the lawsuit, a portion of which was just recently posted on YouTube and is causing more than a little political heartburn as the party prepares to nominate Barack Obama as its first African American for president.
In the video, according to National Public Radio, Dean describes how he has tried to broker peace between gays and lesbians and prominent African American leaders, led by onetime Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile, who had objected to goals and timetables for gay and lesbian delegates to the party's national convention.
"I wanted equal representation for gay and lesbian Americans, and I wanted to achieve it in a way that wasn't offensive to the history of the civil rights movement," Dean says in the deposition, which was videotaped in March but only made public a week ago.
Personally, I'm offended by the notion that my quest for equality somehow upsets the sensibilities of some self centered African American homophobes who learned all the wrong lessons of the civil rights movement. That movement was about Dr. King's dream of equality for all people - not the narrow, selfish agenda of equal rights for certain people.
In any case, let's hope Democrats can come together and elect Barack Obama - who will then sign pro-gay legislation into law, which will certainly help put this controversy behind us.
It is campaign season, once again, which means conservatives, will try to paint Democrats as "liberals," as if it were a dirty word. I, for one, am proud to be a liberal and believe we should stand up against these conservative smears.
One of the great fallacies in modern lore is that liberalism stands for nothing and liberals have no core beliefs. The right wing, from the Pope to the President, has impugned the left by unfairly portraying it as a valueless movement mired in moral relativism.
This could not be further from the truth. Indeed, the left is the backbone of freedom, the defender of personal liberty, the guarantor of free speech and religious worship and the nurturer of democratic movements across the globe. Far from believing in nothing, wherever liberal democratic values prevail, civilizations flourish and free people thrive.
The cornerstone of liberalism is the idea that each person is endowed with the precious gift of liberty and can freely choose his or her own path - for better or worse. We believe this is crucial to greater enlightenment, personal growth and ultimate fulfillment. It also offers the best opportunity for people to realize their dreams and achieve their spiritual promise.
Liberalism encourages exploration and education. It reveres science and celebrates the inquisitive mind. Indeed, liberal values are often superior to those held on the right, because they are tenaciously subjected to rigorous examination. Beliefs that are questioned and still prevail are the ones that stand the test of time.
Like conservatism, liberalism has very strong core principles. But unlike conservatism, liberalism is not afraid to question "the way it is." The fulcrum of this philosophy is that all ideas will be constantly examined, scrutinized, studied and debated. If new information emerges to counter the culture's prevailing values or understanding, it will be rightfully taken into account. Far from moral relativism, liberalism searches for the ultimate value in which to build a moral foundation: Truth.
Right wing movements across the globe often seem uninterested in truth if it contradicts their obdurate belief systems. Reality averse, they are woefully unable to adjust to new understandings, burgeoning ideas and cultural awakenings. For example, despite overwhelming evidence that women are the equals of men, they still can't drive or vote in some Muslim countries. In America, gay people are still treated as second-class citizens, even though mountains of science and empirical evidence suggest that homosexuality is as biologically ingrained as eye color or handedness.
Liberals believe in the power of "reason," while conservatives are often just plain reactionary. This is why the GOP is the party of the "southern strategy" and anti-gay subterfuge. Republican power is directly related to fertilizing fear and fomenting fanaticism.
Indeed, the great appeal of modern conservatism, or other forms of authoritarianism, is that people don't have to think for themselves. They can mentally "check out" of this world and place their worries in the hands of a commanding politician or a higher deity.
Modern conservatives are often discomfited by the complexities of life and demand answers to the world's many unanswerable questions. They arrogantly and disingenuously claim to have absolute truth, while liberalism boldly proclaims that it does not have such ubiquitous powers of understanding. Liberalism is for those who are unafraid to fully embrace the magnificent journey of life and tackle the great mysteries of our time.
If one looks at modern conservatism in the United States, it is easy to see that it is a movement of intellectual and spiritual atrophy. In the political realm, conservatives essentially call for judges who are "strict constructionists," which is shorthand for saying "the Constitution is a dead document."
What a monumentally ridiculous notion to put forth, that American jurisprudence has not evolved in more than two centuries! Do strict constructionists believe that women and African Americans should have their rights restricted because the nation's founders treated women as second-class citizens and owned slaves?
Likewise, modern conservatives have also rendered the Bible (or Koran) "dead documents." In conservative houses of worship, traditionalists put forth the untenable belief that holy books are literal. They call these books "God's Plan," as if the Creator hasn't had a new thought in a couple of thousand years.
Modern conservatives will claim that liberals are sacrilegious for holding such beliefs. To the contrary, liberals are often extraordinarily religious or spiritual people. However, they diverge with conservatives in that they believe the strongest faith is one that is subject to healthy skepticism and painstaking examination. In encouraging people to explore all faiths -- free of guilt, shame, coercion or fear - liberalism also offers people the greatest number spiritual options.
Many of my columns deal with gay themes because equality for gay men and women is the civil rights issue of the new Millennium. However, gay rights mean nearly as much to heterosexuals as they do for homosexuals. The very peace and prosperity of nations can be easily predicted by looking at how they relate to their gay citizens.
If a country treats gay people with dignity and respect and offers them equality, it signals that the country bases its decisions on sound education, rationalism and science. This inevitably leads towards success in all spheres of life.
Countries that ostracize and penalize homosexuals tend to be superstitious, authoritarian and anti-intellectual. This almost uniformly leads to poverty, war, oppression and ultimately tyranny.
A cynic might argue that the United States is not as gay friendly as other countries, yet, it is the richest country in the world. True, but nearly all of America's cities and states that are centers of profit and creativity offer acceptance for homosexuals. States most hostile to gay people are relatively backwards, with lower levels of education and income. Places that offer acceptance signal that they are open-minded and looking towards the future. Locales that reject homosexuals indicate that they are stuck in the past -- at their own peril.
In essence, gay rights are the canary in the coal mine for freedom and prosperity. Unfortunately, the bird is hacking, signaling a period of increased oppression and a dangerous erosion of freedom. It is up to us to rescue this nation from the perilous path it is now on. It is time we proudly stand up for what we believe in. If we don't defend our values, our opponents will define them.
Progressive does not mean passive. Our compassion does not mean that we lack passion. Our respect for other beliefs does not signify that we don't hold strong beliefs of our own that we are willing to fight for. Indeed, our power comes from our ability to adjust to reality. We are secure in our values, yet humble enough to adapt if our viewpoints are proven obsolete. Wherever liberal democracy takes root, a strong and proud record of economic, moral, social and political achievement follows.
For all of the countless times the presidential candidates have laid out their positions on the war, the economy and health care, there is one issue that they haven't talked about much: gay marriage. (NPR)
For both Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, it is risky territory, where they have as much to lose as they have to gain. Political consultant Doug Hattaway has advised many Democratic candidates on gay issues. He says candidates ought to steer clear of same sex marriage this year simply because it's relatively unimportant to voters.
"Bottom line is, I think that both candidates feel squeezed. So the best approach is to talk about the economy," Hattaway said.
Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council says that if McCain will not bring up gay marriage, conservatives will. "The senator, so far, has not been a candidate who motivates the grassroots," he said. "But these issues motivate the grassroots and will get the people in churches and people who care about these issues not only out to vote, but hopefully, bringing their friends along."
A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein. Suskind writes in "The Way of the World," to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery -- adamantly denied by the White House -- was designed to portray a false link between Hussein's regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.
With this White House, I'd beleive about anything....
Well before Senators Barack Obama and John McCain rose to the top of their parties, a partisan shift was under way at the local and state level. For more than three years starting in 2005, there has been a reduction in the number of voters who register with the Republican Party and a rise among voters who affiliate with Democrats and, almost as often, with no party at all.
This is certainly good news for the elections, if not the country. Conservative government has been a nasty experiment that has miserably failed. Beyond the hypocrisy and obnoxious behavior, the right wing has hurt this nation and continues to inflict damage due to its absurd ideas and arrogance in ever admitting wrongdoing. The sooner the halls of Congress are cleared of so-called "conservatives," the quicker America can turn itself around and be a leader in the world.
Focus on the Family Admits That Dobson Twists Research, Says TWO
Truth Wins Out (TWO) today condemned the introduction of a United States Senate resolution to "congratulate" Focus on the Family's James Dobson for his selection into the Radio Hall of Fame. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) sponsored the controversial measure that says Dobson's program has "benefited the lives of families and individuals across the United States and around the world."
"It is disgraceful that Senators would consider congratulating James Dobson for his reprehensible radio broadcasts that damage families and promote discrimination," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "Honoring a man who distorts research and misrepresents facts sends the wrong message to youth who are looking for role models. Do we really want young people to think lying and cheating are acceptable ways to promote a viewpoint?"
In the past two years, at least seven researchers have accused Dobson of manipulating or cherry picking their results to back his anti-gay teachings. Letters and videos documenting the concerns of these respected professors can be viewed at RespectMyResearch.org. In an Internet and video attack on Truth Wins Out last week, Focus on the Family inadvertently admitted it distorts research.
"What Dr. Dobson has done, through the years, is look at scientific data, and then reach conclusions off that data that may or may not be supported by the researchers who did the research," said Gary Schneeberger, vice president for media and public relations at Focus on the Family.
"I would agree with Schneeberger that Dobson is committing larceny of the lab by twisting the scientific conclusions of legitimate researchers to fit his archaic views," said Besen. "However, it is neither moral nor ethical to cherry pick work and grossly misrepresent research to bolster an ideological agenda."
Truth Wins Out will join the Gay Liberation Network and other organizations to protest the Radio Hall of Fame dinner on Nov. 8 at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel. Co-sponsors of the Senate resolution include GOP Sens. Jim DeMint, S.C.; Orrin Hatch, Utah; James Inhofe, Okla., Mel Martinez, Fla.; Mitch McConnell, Ky.; and Pat Roberts.