“Several years ago Gary Glenn came to Midland as a conservative political activist… Soon thereafter he rekindled the American Family Association of Michigan, based in Midland. Since that time, the AFA has been on a non-stop campaign to deny basic freedoms, safety and dignity to (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered) people. The American Family Association claims to be a ‘pro-family’ organization, but a recent study by the (National Gay & Lesbian Task Force) Policy Institute showed that the AFA and similar groups do little for families, but instead spend their time trying to outlaw abortions, stop equal rights for gay people, and boycott companies they claim support indecency.”
MIDLAND DAILY NEWS
May 14, 2006
Anti-gay extremism bad
for Midland and Michigan
by Jackie Anderson, Chairman, The Triangle Foundation
Most people believe they have strong principles and usually believe they are the most principled person they know. Most people report that faith is strong in their lives and also do not support discrimination. So how do people reconcile wanting to be fair, inclusive, kind and value-driven, while supporting discrimination and intolerance toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people?
Several years ago Gary Glenn came to Midland as a conservative political activist with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Soon thereafter he rekindled the American Family Association of Michigan, based in Midland. Since that time, the AFA has been on a non-stop campaign to deny basic freedoms, safety and dignity to GLBT people.
The American Family Association claims to be a “pro-family” organization but a recent study by the Policy Institute showed that the AFA and similar groups do little for families, but instead spend their time trying to outlaw abortions, stop equal rights for gay people, and boycott companies they claim support indecency. Actually according to the (National Gay & Lesbian Task Force) Policy Institute, the issues most important to families include: health insurance, jobs, poverty, domestic violence, child support and divorce. None of which are priorities for the AFA. (www.thetaskforce.org)
Here are some things the AFA doesn’t want you to know. AFA opposes adding protections for gay victims of hate violence to Michigan’s hate crime law. AFA wants to maintain Michigan’s sodomy law, basically making it a fifteen-year felony for gay people to engage in an act of intimacy with their partners. They have launched ballot measures in cities across Michigan, which, if passed, would have allowed gay people to be fired from their jobs, simply because of their sexual orientation. AFA opposes domestic partner benefits, which in many cases are the only means for gay couples to protect their families when illness strikes. AFA supports so-called “ex-gay ministries” which destructively and irresponsibly claim to turn gay people straight. These “ministries” have no basis in psychology, and have actually lead to wrecked marriages, divided families, depression, suicide and a near zero percent success rate.
Are these the positions of mainstream value-centered Christians? I don’t think so. The truth is that the AFA has a radical agenda for Michigan. Many Christians may believe homosexuality is wrong, but also believe that gays should not lose their job or be attacked; should be able to access health insurance with their life partner; and not be thrown in jail for loving another person.
If anything, discrimination and violence toward gay people is the real harm to society, not homosexuality. Using the gay community as a scapegoat for America’s problems is not the answer. If the institution of marriage is in crisis, let’s do things to help families.
The truth is that gay and lesbian people are very much a part of the fabric of our community. We are in every church, family, classroom, office and sports team in Midland. We may not come out because it is unsafe. It is unsafe because currently organizations like the AFA and leaders like Jerry Falwell have waged a campaign of spiritual violence on our community. Why is so much energy being wasted taking aim at gay families? Because fear is a powerful motivator and, if you can convince the public that someone is out to harm them or their children or their job or family, then they can be convinced to set aside good sense and follow those who say they will protect them from the trumped-up fear image that has been created.
Stop and ask yourself — just because progress on gay and lesbian equality seems to be all around us, does that really mean it is a threat? Can anyone really say that by allowing gay youth in schools to have a club of their own so they can feel supported, that they are pushing a “gay agenda” on society as the AFA contends? If a gay couple holds hands in public, are they flaunting something or are you just not accustomed to same-sex intimacy? If gay families pay taxes and obey the law and want the right to receive survivor benefits from social security when their partner dies, are they attacking the institution of marriage? Absolutely not.
Jackie Anderson is a resident of Hope, Mich. She is board chairman of the Triangle Foundation.