Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Operation Rescue's Randall Terry trashes his family while campaigning for "family values"

By Diane Silver

Oh, the hypocrisy... This morning I'm not feeling very generous as we get yet another example of how "family values" for members of the Religious Right can mean anything except valuing their own families.

Today's illustration comes from Randall Terry, who became famous for founding the rabidly anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

Terry is running for a state senate seat in Florida. As might be expected, he is running as a "family values" candidate. Yahoo News and PlanetOut report:
Among ... Terry's pledges are preserving traditional marriage and opposing adoptions by gay men and lesbians. He has touted efforts to stop abortions. His campaign mailers sum up the value he puts on family: They show a picture of him with his wife, a daughter, and three grinning young sons -- taken before a fourth was born this summer

But Jamiel, Terry's adopted son, says the picture is missing two people -- him and his sister, Tila, also adopted. Both have been estranged from Terry since Jamiel came out as a gay man and Tila had a child out of wedlock.
Jamiel and Tila are literally not in the picture, and they certainly don't fit Terry's political image. More than that, though, they are apparently not in Terry's life. Jamiel also says Terry even left Tila to fend for herself when she became pregnant.

Yahoo News and PlanetOut report:
"Both Tila and I have tried to revive or rekindle our relationship with my father, and we've been shut out," he said. "So maybe if we had been invited for Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc., we would be in a family photo."
Terry denies it all, but he also seems to spend a fair amount of energy talking about how Jamiel has sent him "vicious" emails and about how to two now-grown children have problems. All the while, Terry defends himself as being a good father.

I can empathize with the pain it must cause to be attacked in public by your child. I can also understand how difficult it can be sometimes to keep families together.

At the same time, if the facts as presented in this news story are true then Terry is truly a hypocrite and liar. However, we don't have enough evidence to judge what has happened in that family, and I will leave the truth of it to the Terry family to unravel.

The most damning evidence, though, that Terry has only a passing acquaintance with the true value of a family is the way he talked to the news media. He responded as a politician, not as a father.

He said he did nothing wrong, of course. I'll let him get away with that. More than that, though, he talked about how his adopted son sent him "vicious" emails and how these two now-grown children were damaged before they were ever adopted.

A real parent values and protects family and his or her children above all else -- even above getting elected to the Florida Senate. A real parent doesn't attack his children in the news, no matter what that child has done. If the child has a problem, a real parent talks privately with the child, particularly an adult child. You don't tell the whole world you think your children are damaged goods.

A real parent with true family values would have a simple statement for reporters. Pay attention, oh ye so holy members of the Religious Right. Here are your talking points for future situations like this. Tell a reporter: "I love my family. I love all my children and value all of them. Any disagreements we may have are not a suitable topic for public debate."

That's the advice of a lesbian mother, but then again, I'm queer. What the heck can I possibly know about raising kids?

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