Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New site takes on religious right's lies about lesbians & gays

By Diane Silver

A loud burst of applause to Truth Wins Out and Soulforce for launching a new site dedicated to fighting the religious right's distortion of research about lesbians and gays.

The site Respect My Research is designed to educate the public and news media and to give researchers a way to report distortions and correct the record.

Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen says James Dobson's recent column in Time magazine about Mary Cheney's pregnancy and lesbian and gay parenting was "the last straw." Besen says:

“I called five different mainstream researchers, all of whom were floored that their research was being used to denounce LGBT families.”

Judith Stacey was one of them. “I’ve had to spend a lot of time correcting the record,” Stacey confirmed. “When Dobson says thousand of studies demonstrate that children do better with a mom and a dad, he is not talking about research that studied gay and lesbian parents. He is talking about children who were raised by two heterosexual parents versus children who were raised by a single heterosexual parent.”
RespectMyResearch.org will be used as a platform to educate the public and the media. “There is a difference between balancing opinion and balancing research in a story,” stated Clinton Anderson, director of the Office of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns, American Psychological Association. “No research has come up with a negative conclusion about gay and lesbian parents, and asking someone to give their opinion is not balance. The media needs to be more sophisticated.”

As a lesbian and a parent, all I can say is it's about time. I am tired of watching in helpless fury as journalists fail to provide accurate coverage of research about LGBT Americans.

Sometimes I think it is just laziness. Why check out the facts when it is so much easier to just take a quote? But other times I think Anderson is right. The problem is that the idea of "balance" is, well, totally off balance.

I remember being taught in journalism school and on the job as a newspaper reporter that I had to talk to all sides. When I was a reporter, though, no one ever asked: What do we do if there aren't other sides? What do we do if a group with political power is simply lying and distorting the facts? Do we quote them because they have power?

If journalists were covering a debate about the moon, and one "side" argued that the moon is made of cheese, what should they do? Should they dutifully tout the moon-as-cheese argument if the group making the assertion has political clout? Often, I think that is what happens to research about lesbians and gays. Because Dobson has clout, he gets quoted, whether he lies or not. Like Time magazine, few journalists make an effort to correct the record.

Enough is enough is enough. My life, my child's life, other children's lives depend on reporters and editors and the public getting it right.

Kudos to Truth Wins Out and Soulforce. It is more than time to stop the lies.

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