Dan Savage Calls “Bullshit” On Head Of WA Anti-Equality Coalition
April 18, 2012 2:55 pm ET by Carlos Maza
On the April 16 edition of KCTS 9’s new show, Public Affairs with C.R. Douglas, the program spotlighted Washington state’s recent decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Panelists included Joseph Backholm – leader of the Protect Marriage Washington effort and president of the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) – and prominent gay activist Dan Savage.
While much of the episode followed the show’s signature use of the Socratic Method, the debate became more confrontational after Backholm began discussing same-sex parenting:
BACKHOLM: I think there’s a general understanding of the fact that if you have a million kids who are raised by their mother and father and a million kids who are not raised by their mother and father, knowing nothing else about them, that the million kids who are raised by their mother and father are going to do better.
SAVAGE: That’s bullshit.
BACKHOLM: Now there’s certainly going to be outliers in that–
SAVAGE: Sorry, that’s bullshit.
DOUGLAS: What is your basis for that?
BACKHOLM: I think it’s observable reality. And of course, to my left here, Professor Schwartz knows a lot more about the data, and as she just admitted there’s a lot that we don’t know about this because we have not been -- we haven't been far enough down this road. We don’t have longitudinal data to really be able to study this. But I think most people understand that it’s good for kids to have a mom and a dad and that’s one of the reasons why the current definition of marriage is one that we are in support of.
Savage went on to point out that Backholm’s “observable reality” and “general understanding” actually contradicted the majority of data relating to same-sex parenting. As Savage noted, opponents of marriage equality incorrectly cite studies about single parenting, usually ignoring the “mountain of evidence” – including longitudinal studies – demonstrating that committed same-sex couples are capable of effectively raising children.
Backholm casually dismissed Savage’s rebuttal, comparing the harm of same-sex parenting to drug use and asserting that studies about gay parents were unreliable:
BACKHOLM: Regardless of your position, you can take data that says ‘this agrees with me.’ But I don’t think that, in the same way that we don’t need a study of millions of dollars to prove that drugs are bad for children, the audience who’s watching this understands from their own experience and their own just life knowledge that it’s good for kids to be raised by their mother and father. [emphasis added]
Backholm’s disregard for the growing body of scientific research concerning same-sex parenting is unsettling. His organization has already been caught promoting the myths that gay parents molest their own children and that gay parents turn their kids gay – both of which have been widely rejected by mainstream medical organizations. If people like Backholm are really in charge of dictating the tone and messaging of the anti-equality effort in his state, Washington voters should expect to hear a lot more “bullsh*t” in the months to come.