Thanks to the Streisand effect, by now, everyone has heard how Rory O’Neill’s (aka Panti Bliss) interview on the Saturday Night Show was censored after a legal challenge made by John Waters who objected to being described as a homophobe. He clearly felt this was libel and RTE duly folded quicker than you could say “spineless”. Also discussed were Breda O’Brien and the Iona institute who were described in similar terms. You can read the full transcript here.
As you can imagine both the censorship and the terminology used to describe these people caused quite a stir. With one side crying censorship as Rory simply stated something what is believed to be true, and the other side arguing that it was ridiculous to libel people simply because they believe in “traditional” marriage. So I have decided to analyse the opinions of these individuals regarding homosexuals and marriage equality to ascertain whether or nor the “homophobic” label is warranted.
The Iona institute, to which O’Brien is a patron, has long lobbied against equal marriage. During the Constitutional Convention Iona made a submission arguing against equal marriage, in which they made this rather audacious claim;
The social sciences confirm what every known society in the world has known instinctively, namely that marriage between a man and a woman is uniquely beneficial to society and to children. This is the case even though some individual marriages may be dysfunctional and harmful to children (as can any other type of family).
There are two major flaws with this statement, the first being that it is a total fabrication. The social sciences do not say this, in fact, almost every paper which studied children of same sex parents showed no differences in outcomes when compared to children of heterosexual parents. Secondly, there is a caveat in big blue lettering on the front page which explicitly states that same-sex parents were not researched in this study therefore no conclusions about same-sex parents can be drawn from this study. Yet here we have Iona trying to use it to argue against equal marriage. Of course the folks at Iona were called up on this and they attempted to backtrack. They claimed that they meant heterosexual families are the “most beneficial family form that we know of from the point of view of children” as “there are no large national surveys that allows us to draw reliable conclusions about the children of same-sex couples”. These two little caveats were wholly absent in the submission, so this is simply moving the goalposts after being caught red handed. Also, the “that we know of ” line is again untrue for reasons stated above, we know children of homosexual parents do just fine. Finally, that last sentence true, there were no large national surveys done at the time Child Trends completed their research, however, that was a decade ago, there have been many completed since. So Iona ignored a decade of research in an attempt to make their point.
The only piece of research which Iona seem to get right was that there are no large scale studies done, and this is something members of Iona have been saying continuously to negate the research which has been completed thus far. However, in the words of Judith Stacey and Timothy Biblarz, two sociologists;
research based on statistically representative national samples, are rarely employed by scholars who publish in Child Development and Developmental Psychology. There is a simple explanation for this. Large-scale survey research methods are too blunt and rigid to adequately address the complex and nuanced questions that are generally at issue when scholars attempt to assess and compare child development under different forms of parenting or adult intervention. Most child development studies profit from having in-depth observations of children with multiple reporters (parents, teachers, clinicians, researchers, etc.) and instruments. Research often benefits when rapport develops between the researcher, the observer, the parents and the children
They go on further to say that if it was reasonable to dismiss studies researching children of same-sex parents then we
would have to dismiss virtually the entire discipline of psychology. The vast majority of research in child development, and in the field of psychology more broadly, would be invalidated as unscientific.
In essence, if David Quinn and the patrons of Iona, none of whom are credited scientists let alone sociologists or psychologists, think they can categorise studies as flawed based on sample size then may I suggest they write a paper telling the thousands of sociologists and psychologists that they have been doing it wrong all these years. They will surely be greatly rewarded for revolutionising these two academic fields.
Iona’s disastrous employment of research doesn’t stop there. After casting such a critical eye on the dozens of studies which all portray homosexual parenting in a positive manner, they seemingly accept any paper which tells a different tale without a moment’s hesitation, regardless of how flawed it is.
The now infamous Regnerus study was published in 2012 and was promptly promoted by Iona. To say the study was flawed is an understatement. Regnerus was paid by the Witherspoon institute to design a paper which could be used in two upcoming Supreme Court cases: Windsor v. U.S. and Hollingsworth v. Perry. To achieve this Regnerus used skewed methodology. If one is to accurately compare the outcomes of children of heterosexual and homosexual parents then like versus like must be compared. Therefore, long term homosexual households should be compared to long term heterosexual households. Regnerus did not do this. He compared stable heterosexual households against single parents, many of whom weren’t even homosexual but simply were reported as having a same-sex relationship at some point. In fact, there were only two stable homosexual households used in the whole study. There are many more flaws which you can read here. You might forgive Iona for originally supporting it but they have never redacted their support and David Quinn, Iona’s Director, tweeted an article in support of the article only last month. How can they honestly support an article which was not only flawed, but intentionally so.
Imagine a researcher was paid to portray a racial minority as worse parents than white people. And the researcher did so by intentionally using a methodology he knew would give him the results required. Then organisations used this research to limit the rights of the racial minority. Pretty darn racist I would say, so how would characterise the behaviour above?
John Waters hasn’t written much about homosexuality or equal marriage but the little he has written I find quite disturbing.
This is really a kind of satire on marriage which is being conducted by the gay lobby. It’s not that they want to get married; they want to destroy the institution of marriage because they’re envious of it;
This is really an attempt to discredit an institution, the nominative institution on which society and human civilization is founded. If you do that there will be consequences, and one of them is that marriage will become a nothing;
It is a deliberate sabotage of the culture”, continues Waters, “and the relishing of the destruction as a result. Gay marriage is a satire…. But sometimes you have to allow things to happen for the consequences to become obvious.
Waters negates the possibility that homosexuals want marriage equality simply because it is equality and it will help them be happier. He then attaches ulterior, malicious motivations. He believes that homosexuals don’t actually want equality but they are simply out to destroy. This is propagandist fear-mongering at its best: applying malicious intent to a group of people for benign actions. This is active irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals. It’s homophobia, even in its strictest form.
Breda O’Brien’s opposition to equal marriage (much like David Quinn’s and Iona’s) is the belief that children should be raised by a mother and a father, more precisely their biological mother and father, as she states here;
for a long time, I hesitated to write about gay marriage, simply because gay people have been so discriminated against. What then, tipped the balance for me? It is the belief that wherever possible, a child should be reared by a mother and a father, and that children have the right to know and have a relationship with their biological parents.
For the purposes of this article I will not argue against this logic, in fact, I will accept it. The reason being is to show how this logic is flawed and is no reason to object to equal marriage, which leads me to belief there is an ulterior motive behind their opposition.
Same-sex couples have four methods available to them in order to have children: surrogacy, sperm donation, adoption, previous heterosexual relationship. I will immediately remove children from a previous relationship as just like any other split relationship they have a biological mother and father. This leaves surrogacy, sperm donation, and adoption. These options are and will be legislated completely independently of equal marriage. And let’s assume Iona get their way and surrogacy, sperm donation are banned and only heterosexual couples can adopt. Will homosexuals still want to get married? Yes. This shows how they are two different issues, yet Iona treats them synonymously. Worse again is the fact Iona is against surrogacy and (anonymous) sperm donation, this overwhelmingly effects heterosexual people far more than it does homosexual couples. Yet Iona invests far more time arguing against equal marriage, even though it’s a totally separate issue, than they do arguing against surrogacy and sperm donation. Surely they would be better off targeting the issue as a whole rather than sacrificing the happiness of homosexuals to simply stop a mere portion of what they are against. But would they even achieve that? Would homosexuals be prevented from having children if they can’t get married? No. Because, a I said previously, legislation for surrogacy, sperm donation, and adoption is totally separate from equal marriage as those issues overwhelming effect heterosexual couples.
So why does Iona argue against equal marriage when their objection a) is totally separate from equal marriage, b) even with their objection realised homosexuals will still want to get married and c) can still achieve objectives without having to deny equal marriage to homosexuals?
The answer to that question is unknown to me, but to deny homosexuals equality and happiness for objections which effect heterosexuals more and can be achieved without refusing equal status is, without a doubt, homophobic.
In short, the below points are homophobic tendencies which have displayed by Iona, Breda O’Brien and John Waters.
- Blatantly misrepresent research to portray homosexual parenting as inferior to heterosexual parenting;
- Ignore decades of scientific research;
- Invent reasons to negate the studies such as “small sample-size” as this is the preferred methodology;
- Accept and promote research by somebody who was paid to ensure a preset conclusion to use in an argument against equal marriage;
- Ignoring the true intentions for why homosexuals want to get married;
- Attach malicious motivations;
- Fear-monger by saying homosexuals only want to destroy marriage;
- Employ rationale against equal marriage when even if realised still wouldn’t stop homosexuals wanting to get married;
- Ignore the fact that these issues effect heterosexuals more;
- Using the issue of equal marriage in a vain attempt to achieve part of their goal instead of tackling the issue as a whole;
- Sacrificing the happiness of homosexuals in an attempt to achieve objectives which could be achieved without denying equality.
All the above are homophobic, some more than others but they are certainly homophobic. This isn’t simply “opinion” or “ethos” or “tradition”, this is research manipulation, this fear-mongering, this is mistrust, this is using homosexuals as patsies to achieve wider aims, this is homophobia.
So, yeah, I think Rory O’Neill got it right. If anything he was probably a bit too nice.