Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Gay Rights and The Essence of Parenthood

First class wingnut Peter LaBarbera from the pompously named Americans for Truth (and that makes the rest of us what?) has a ridiculous article slamming President Bush for not condemning Mary Cheney because of her pregnancy. It includes some absolutely looney statements:

The whole Mary Cheney-baby episode typifies how the “gay” agenda advances in our emotionally-driven culture. The personal becomes political, and “open and proud gays” use their relationships with family members, friends and co-workers to persuade them to embrace behaviors with which they once disagreed — or at least go silent about them. This is the goal of homosexual activists’ “coming out” strategy, which is brilliant in its manipulation of human nature.

Well yes, Peter, one of the happy and healthy results of gays coming out of the closet is that it makes people realize that they have, in fact, known and cared about gay people all along despite their conscious distaste for homosexuality. That’s not manipulation of human nature, it is human nature; it’s a lot easier to demonize people and think they’re evil if you don’t actually know them. When people find out that someone they know and already care about is gay, gays no longer just an abstract them, they’re real people with real feelings.

When I was in college, my buddy Jeff came into my house very upset and showed me a copy of the State News (the MSU student newspaper). On page 2 was a story about a candlelight vigil held the night before by the Gay/Lesbian Council, and in the picture was another friend of ours, Chuck, a guy we had taken with us many times to judge at debate tournaments. Jeff was extremely agitated by this and it prompted a discussion that went something like this:

Jeff: “Chuck’s gay.”
Ed: “Okay.”
Jeff: “That doesn’t bother you?”
Ed: “Not really. Should it?”
Jeff: “Hell yes it should. Think about how many weekends we’ve spent with hotel rooms with him at tournaments.”
Ed: “Well isn’t that kind of the point, Jeff? We’ve spent all those weekends in hotel rooms with him and we didn’t even know he was gay. Either he doesn’t find us attractive or it’s just not our problem.”
Jeff: “I can’t believe you think it’s no big deal.”
Ed: “Jeff, it’s still Chuck. We’ve known him for years. He’s a great guy. Am I supposed to suddenly decide he’s not just because he’s attracted to guys? It has nothing to do with me. It’s like deciding not to like someone because they have big feet or red hair.”

He stormed out, and for the next several days he was very upset about it. He eventually came around. In fact, a few years later he came out of the closet himself. And the same thing I said about Chuck applies to him too. He’s one of my best friends. Am I really supposed to dislike him because of that? That would be completely irrational. I didn’t really need him coming out of the closet to convince me of that, but a lot of others do. A lot of people harbor evil views of homosexuals until they find out that someone they know and care about for their whole life has been gay the whole time. That brings them face to face with the inherent irrationality of their prejudices and turns them into us.

“I’m gay, so you can’t be anti-gay,” is the basic approach, and then parents are brought in through groups like PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) to expand the “gay”-positive network. Christians talk about “friendship evangelism,” but it’s the homosexuals and their families and friends who have proved themselves adept at changing society — and undermining Biblical morality and tradition — through personal relationships.

Those crafty gay people. They make you care about them just to destroy Biblical morality and tradition. That’s the same thing black people did too, they actually moved in to our neighborhoods and acted all normal and stuff. They made us think that they were human beings just like us and we fell for it. So much for tradition. Those crafty little devils.

“Coming out” as a tactic is most cynical when encouraged among young people: homosexual school clubs called GSA’s (“Gay/Straight Alliances”) are merely the application of this approach to radically change a generation’s attitudes toward homosexuality and gender confusion (“transgenderism”). And it’s working: just ask the many Christian parents whose high school children have scolded them about being “homophobes.”

Guess what? A lot of parents need to be scolded for being homophobes. Perhaps if LaBarbera could stomach the presence of gays long enough to actually talk to them, he’d find out about parents who disown their children just for being gay. It happens all the time, with devestating effects. Their hatred and bigotry destroys relationships, families and more than a few individuals. There is nothing cynical about teenagers joining together to protect their friends from the bigotry of people like LaBarbera.

But here’s where I think he really goes off the deep end:

Mary Cheney is not “expecting a baby” WITH Heather Poe. She artificially conceived a child with the aid of some yet unidentified man. Heather Poe has no natural relationship to the child. When the media say that two homosexuals are “having a baby,” a biological impossibility, they trivialize the huge differences between natural, mom-and-dad families and artificial, homosexual-led households.

But this is quite absurd. The fact that Heather Poe will have no “natural” – i.e. biological – relationship with the child is absolutely irrelevant to the question of whether she will have a healthy parental relationship with the child. Mary and Heather have been together for 15 years, and in all likelihood will be together for the rest of their lives. Heather will be a parent to this child every bit as much as Mary will despite the lack of a biological relationship. The first rule of parenting is this: biology is irrelevant; only relationships matter.

Shaquille O’Neil was raised by a man named Phillip Harrison, who is legally his stepfather. Shaq says Phil is his real father, and he’s right. His biological father is a man named Joe Toney, who suddenly appeared in 1994, when Shaq was a budding NBA superstar. Shaq’s response was to do a rap song called Biological Didn’t Bother where he says that “Phil is my father…cuz my biological didn’t bother.” Shaq knows something that LaBarbera doesn’t, that parenthood has virtually nothing to do with biology and everything to do with relationships.

If my father called me tomorrow and told me that I was adopted, I wouldn’t even blink. I wouldn’t wonder about my “real” father because I know who my real father is. My real father is the man who raised me, the man who held me when I had bad dreams and spanked me when I was bad. The man who taught me the right way to treat other people and who taught me that when someone you care about needs help, you’re there for them, every time, without question. That’s my father. And if it turned out that he wasn’t the guy who supplied the sperm, that wouldn’t change one iota.

I would like to think that Heather Poe will be a parent to this child just as much as my father has been a parent to me. She’ll help her with her homework and help instill a sense of dignity in that child like all parents should. She’ll punish her when she deserves it and praise her even when she doesn’t. That’s what good parents do, and good parents are not determined by genetics but by love. If she does all those things that a good parent does, does LaBarbera really think that the child will care whether Heather is her biological mother or not? If so, he’s nuts.


  1. #1 Tulle
    December 29, 2006

    OMG!!! They have figured out what the gay agenda really is! Well, I won’t let it stop me from continuing the gay “agenda”. I started 30 years ago coming out to my friends, then 29 years ago my family, then 23 years ago at work. None of it ever turned out bad in the long run. Just one and only one friend had a problem, but years later I got a letter from him. It seems he was a medic on the failed rescue mission for the Iran hostages. One of the men, as his dying wish wanted him to give a message to his “lover” back in the states, that is when he understood that gay people are just as human as anyine else.

  2. #2 kehrsam
    December 29, 2006

    From the article:

    Assuming that as an evangelical Christian, Mr. Bush believes homosexual practice is sinful…

    Why should W believe that as an evangelical Christian? Or me, for that matter? Do you have to be stupid to be an evangelical? If so, I guess I owe Gretchen an apology. :B

  3. #3 SLC
    December 29, 2006

    Re Cheney/Poe

    For all we know, the sperm donor could be a relative of Ms. Poe, which, if true, would make her biologically related to Ms. Cheneys’ child.

  4. #4 Matthew
    December 29, 2006

    That’s pretty insane. The more I hear anti-gay arguments the more they sound like classic conspiracy theorists. Does she honestly believe that when gay people come out of the closet, they are doing so for any reason other than personal? There is no creed, no commandments, among gays.

  5. #5 NonyNony
    December 29, 2006

    “The more I hear anti-gay arguments the more they sound like classic conspiracy theorists.”

    Sure, because anti-gay arguments come from right-wingers and right-wing conspiracy theories are drenched in racism – which maps to homophobia quite nicely. Right-wing conspiracy theories are about fear of the “other” – some group who is NOT LIKE ME is trying to infiltrate my world and make it different. They’re ALL like that – the International Jewish Conspiracy, the International Muslim Conspiracy, the International Feminist Conspiracy – they’re all about groups who are “different” making changes to the world that the right wing conspiracy theorist lives in. Its natural that the movement of gays for civil rights and more recognition would map right onto the form of an “International Homosexual Conspiracy” for right-wingers who are already in that mindset. LaBarbera seems to have a strong conspiracy obsessed streak in him (based on his previous writings that I’ve read), so it would be natural for him to look on it in a similar manner. The fact that it is utterly ridiculous to assume that all gay people are involved in a massive conspiracy instead of working for their own self interests probably wouldn’t even appear as a thought in his head.

  6. #6 Gretchen
    December 29, 2006

    When the media say that two homosexuals are “having a baby,” a biological impossibility, they trivialize the huge differences between natural, mom-and-dad families and artificial, homosexual-led households.

    Try “When the media say that an infertile couple who adopt are “having a baby,” a biological impossibility, they trivialize the huge differences between natural, mom-and-dad families and artificial, adoptive parent-led households.”

    Why should W believe that as an evangelical Christian? Or me, for that matter? Do you have to be stupid to be an evangelical? If so, I guess I owe Gretchen an apology. :B

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to there, but I would say it is a reasonable assumption to believe that an evangelical Christian is likely to believe that homosexuality is sinful. Probably the vast majority do. And it has nothing to do with being stupid, by the way. When I was an evangelical Christian I was anti-gay because that’s what I had been taught, but as soon as I got to know some gay kids in school that position vanished into thin air (to the point of being a co-founder of a gay-straight alliance club in high school). I wasn’t stupid as a kid; I was bigoted because I a) believed something I’d been told b) at an impressionable age c) about people I’d never met.

  7. #7 Elf Eye
    December 29, 2006

    I’m a mother by adoption and have no biological connection to my daughter. We are not of the same ‘race’ and were not even born on the same continent. So I find LaBarbera’s comments on “natural” (i.e., “biological”) families versus “artificial” ones to be personally insulting. I also find his comments to be incredibly ironic. Aren’t the fundies the ones who chant the mantra “adoption not abortion”? Does it ever occur to them that attitudes like LaBarbera’s explain why some people view adoption as undesirable?

  8. #8 FishyFred
    December 29, 2006

    This must be the first time that Shaquille O’Neal and Mary Cheney have been mentioned in the same column.

  9. #9 steve
    December 29, 2006

    Americans for Truth (and that makes the rest of us what?)

    I had the same response when I saw a breed of Starbucks coffee named “Fair Trade”. What’s that imply about the rest of the coffee they’re selling.

  10. #10 Some Random Canadian
    December 29, 2006

    Ed said:

    “The first rule of parenting is this: biology is irrelevant; only relationships matter.”

    You’d better not say that to Steven Pinker, he might kvetch.

  11. #11 Gretchen
    December 29, 2006

    Context context context, Some Random Canadian. I think it’s pretty clear that Ed is talking about biology in terms of genetic lineage establishing parenthood– and can’t imagine Pinker disagreeing with that.

  12. #12 Brian X
    December 29, 2006


    What it means, more or less, is that the bulk of their coffee is just bought on the open market and they don’t necessarily take an active interest in the life condition of the growers. In other words, indifference, not malice. (FWIW, Starbucks’ original Fair Trade blend was one of my favorite blends there ever…)

    It’s the commodities market in action really. Same reason Walmart and (less offensively) Target are so popular — they can provide low prices that other businesses can’t match.

    Oddly enough, I’ve always had the theory for some time that real purchasing power has declined over the years. I base that on the fact that services that were routine fifty years ago are rare or extinct today, even though they may not necessarily be obsolete (think of the library crisis of the 1980s, when many public libraries were radically curtailing hours or just up and closing due to lack of funding). But that, I think, is another discussion.

  13. #13 Brian X
    December 29, 2006

    A little more on topic:

    This guy’s a complete idiot. I wonder if these people who make a big show of rejecting their gay children are incredibly torn over it. I’d be inclined to say that the ones who aren’t didn’t deserve kids in the first place.

  14. #14 Michael Saelim
    December 30, 2006

    Agreed entirely, Ed. And Go State! (I’m MSU ’08) 🙂

  15. #15 Terrance
    December 30, 2006

    Actually, the Cheney family has kept mum (and rightly so) about the details behind Mary’s pregnancy. The assumption is that she was artificially inseminated, with sperm from an anonymous donor and her own egg.

    However, we don’t know that Heather has “no biological relationship” with the child. It may be that they used Heather’s egg and Mary’s womb. Or it may be that the sperm donor was a male relative of Heather’s. Either of those possibilities would give her a biological relationship with the child.

    But you’re right. It’s the relationship, not the biological ties, that makes a parent.

  16. #16 Unsympathetic reader
    December 30, 2006

    Hey, could’ve been parthenogenesis for all we know.

    Some people think it’s happened in humans before…
    Boy, that reminds me of John Irving’s “A Prayer for Owen Meany”.

  17. #17 SharonB
    December 31, 2006

    Without reading any more of Porno Pete’s rant other than what is reprinted here, I can only say that his admission of defeat, that they have lost the kultur war is agreed to and his surrender is accepted.

    IOW, the Religious Reich has lost; they just don’t get it yet.

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