Editors Letter: The Fundamentalist's Spin

By Matthew Breen

Originally published on Advocate.com October 29 2012 5:00 AM ET

Messaging is key to any post-election news cycle, and whoever will be sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office in January 2013, fundamentalists will have much to say about what the election means for the country. They’ll describe it as either a collective abrogation of our morality or confirmation that this country has seen the error of its wicked ways and changed course. Inevitably, LGBTs will be caught in the fray.

Regardless of the fundamentalists’ position, we cannot and should not abide when mainstream media gets sucked into their messaging, in the so-called pursuit of evenhandedness. It’s such a familiar, axiomatic idea, that basic fairness insists we consider two perspectives. But it’s often an entirely unfounded idea, especially when fact dictates that there is only one perspective that merits consideration.

Even progressive outlets like MSNBC give the odious Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council airtime to spread outright lies about LGBTs, like the notion that there’s a higher rate of pedophilia among gay men than straight men, though that’s been proven false; or that parenting by same-sex couples harms children, though that’s been studied and shown to be false too. We don’t lead shorter lives because we’re LGBT; we haven’t harmed troop cohesion by being allowed to serve in the military; we aren’t gay or trans because we were abused. We aren’t gay because something made us gay when we could have been straight, nor can we now choose to be straight.

“Ex-gay” therapy is bogus and harms children. Based on that proven fact, Gov. Jerry Brown of California in September signed a law banning conversion therapy on youths by licensed therapists. It’s a major milestone that recognizes the potentially fatal harm caused by this quackery. Yet one of the repercussions is that we’re seeing this two-sides malarkey (to borrow a term from Joe Biden) in the face of demonstrable evidence, and challengers are attempting to confront case studies and data with a free speech argument that puts kids at the mercy of homophobic parents or communities. It’s true, some of our most virulent enemies are undeterred by actual fact, but we must be armed with information and take to task the media outlets who set fact aside for the purpose of hyping a story. The lives of young LGBT people truly hang in the balance.