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Hate Group Witnesses Tone Down Anti-Gay Rhetoric During Maryland Marriage Hearing

February 01, 2012 6:00 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Last February, Maryland State Senator James Brochin (D) made news when he announced that the “appalling” testimony of anti-gay witnesses during a hearing on a bill to legalize same-sex marriage convinced to him to come out in support of marriage equality.

Although that effort to legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland eventually failed, anti-gay witnesses seem to have learned their lesson.

During yesterday’s Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hearing to discuss a new marriage equality bill, representatives from anti-gay hate groups Family Research Council (FRC) and MassResistance avoided much of the extreme rhetoric for which they’ve become known for.

FRC Senior Fellow Peter Sprigg – who was a witness during last year’s hearing – limited his testimony to a few common anti-equality talking points:

1) We would teach that children do not need a mother and a father. The likely long-term result?

Fewer children would be raised by a married mother and father. [...]

2) We would teach that procreation is not longer a uniquely important public interest. The likely result?

Birth rates would fall. [...]

3) We would teach that adult desires, not the interests of society or the needs of children, should drive the drive the definition of marriage.

Although Sprigg’s testimony has already been thoroughly mocked and debunked, it’s a far cry from his typical anti-gay vitriol. When he’s not calling for the criminalization of homosexuality or suggesting that gays and lesbians should be exported out of the U.S., Sprigg is usually busy producing some of the country’s most extreme anti-gay propaganda. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):

Sprigg authored a 2010 brochure touting “The Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality.” In the brochure, Sprigg claimed that ex-gay therapy works, that sexual orientation can change, that gay people are mentally ill simply because homosexuality makes them that way, and that, “Sexual abuse of boys by adult men is many times more common than consensual sex between adult men, and most of those engaging in such molestation identify themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”

In fact, just minutes before testifying in front of the Maryland Senate committee, Sprigg tweeted that “zero people are ‘born gay,’” an argument he chose not to include in his actual testimony.

Also testifying at the hearing was Brian Camenker, leader of the Massachusetts-based hate group MassResistance. According to the Washington Blade, Camenker limited his testimony to promoting the myth that children would be forced to learn about gay marriage in school:

Mainware was followed by a cordial Rob Lucas and anti-gay group MassResistance’s Brian Camenker, who warned lawmakers that parents will lose control over what children are taught in school if marriage is extended to same-sex couples, and even warned about a particular case, frequently cited by same-sex marriage foes, in which David Parker was arrested for opposing a pro-gay curriculum in his child’s school.

Like Sprigg, Camenker’s testimony was significantly less extreme than the anti-gay rhetoric he uses at other times. According to SPLC:

At a 2006 religious right gathering in Washington, D.C., Camenker insisted that gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals. "One bill in Massachusetts takes away all the penalties for bestiality," he claimed. "This is where this [homosexual] agenda is going." A little later, he added, "They [gays and lesbians] are pushing perversion on our kids." [...]

Camenker, who has long focused on the purported “homosexual agenda” in the schools and frequently claimed gays are dangerous to kids, has repeatedly cited discredited claims from organizations like the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality that link homosexuality and pedophilia. 

In 2008, Camenker made another accusation for which there was no supporting evidence at all — the claim that the state of Massachusetts had had to spend more money every year since same-sex marriage became legal in that state. That, he said, was because of “skyrocketing homosexual domestic violence” and because of the “extreme dysfunctional nature of homosexual relationships.”

This year, MassResistance called Boston Gay Pride events a “depraved” display that featured “a great deal of obviously disturbed, dysfunctional, and extremely self-centered people whose aim was to push their agenda.”

Last year, Camenker’s organization was heavily involved in distributing anti-gay propaganda to countless Maryland voters, including material that suggested former Department of Education official Kevin Jennings was trying to teach children to learn about gay sex in school.

Sprigg and Camenker may have toned down their rhetoric in front of Maryland’s Senate committee, but their anti-gay extremism hasn’t changed since last February. The anti-gay extremism motivating hate groups like FRC and MassResistance is still “appalling,” even if their spokesmen no longer have the courage to state it for the record.


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