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Skimming Over NOM’s Ruth Institute’s “Suggested Reading” List

May 30, 2012 2:26 pm ET by Carlos Maza

On July 26, the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM) Ruth Institute will host its annual “It Takes A Family To Raise A Village” (ITAF) conference, a weekend-long event which introduces students to a number of prominent anti-gay activists to discuss the importance of defending “natural marriage.” On its website, the Ruth Institute provides participants with a list of “suggested reading” for the conference, writing:

Each of these selections has been recommended by a faculty member and will coincide with their lecture during the conference.

If NOM’s suggested reading list is any indication, this year’s ITAF conference promises to be a hodgepodge of anti-gay misinformation and propaganda.

“Scriptural Perspectives on Homosexuality and Sexual Identity”

One article, written by ITAF speaker Robert A.J. Gagnon, makes a number of inflammatory comments about homosexuality and same-sex relationships. According to Gagnon, homosexuality can only be described as one of two things -- “sexual narcissism” or “self-deception”:

If one is conscious of being strongly aroused by the distinctive features of one’s own sex, it is a case of sexual narcissism. If one is not conscious of this sameness but thinks instead of a same-sex partner as completing what is lacking in one’s own sex (probably the more common scenario), then it is a case of sexual self-deception. A self-perception of gender deficit, expressed in a desire to merge with someone of the same sex, is consistent with scientific research regarding (1) high rates of childhood gender nonconformity among homosexual males and (2) preferences on the part of most adult homosexual males for very “masculine” men. The desire to supplement and complement one’s sex with the same sex is really a form of self-delusion. [citations removed for clarity]

This sexual dysfunction, Gagnon argues, is the reason that same-sex relationships are both unhealthy and dangerous:

[S]o far as the erotic dimension is concerned, homoerotic desire is sexual narcissism or sexual self-deception. In a sexual bond between persons of the same sex, the extremes of one’s sex are not moderated and true gaps are not filled. It is this reality that contributes markedly to the disproportionately high rate of problems associated with homosexual practice: high numbers of sex partners and high rates of sexually transmitted disease, especially among male homosexuals, as well as a dearth of long-term relationships and a high incidence of major depression and substance abuse, especially among female homosexuals.

Gagnon’s article also strongly advocates for “ex-gay therapy,” warning psychologists not to interfere with the work that God is doing to free people of their homosexuality, even if those people appear to be under distress:

Consistent with his Jewish Scriptures, Jesus considered sexual ethics to be a life-and-death matter. The incentive behind Jesus’ outreach was a loving sense of urgency about the possible exclusion of such sinners -- persons who egregiously transgressed the will of God -- from God’s coming kingdom. It was better to enter heaven maimed, through cutting off offending limbs (metaphorically speaking) than to be thrown into hell full-bodied.


The aim of a truly Christian psychology is not, in the first instance, elimination of all distress but rather conformity of the person’s life to the will of God. Sometimes the doing of God’s will is stressful -- the cross is a key example of this. However, the outcome of such a life is well worth the momentary sensation of deprivation.

 “What the Evidence Really Says About Scripture and Homosexual Practice: Five Issues”

Another Gagnon article promoted on ITAF’s website peddles the idea that homosexuality is both changeable and “not inherently benign”:

[W]hereas race or ethnicity is a 100% heritable, absolutely immutable, and primarily non-behavioral condition, and so inherently benign, homosexual desire is an impulse and, like many impulses, it is not 100% heritable (there may be congenital influences but these are not absolutely deterministic), is open to some change (even if only, in some cases, a limited reduction in the intensity of impulses), is primarily behavioral (here for unnatural, i.e. structurally incompatible, sexual activity), and therefore is not inherently benign. [emphasis in original]

“What Should Be Allowed Into The Marriage Franchise?”

An article written by Professor Douglas W. Allen -- who has previously claimed that lesbian relationships are unstable, unhealthy, and promiscuous -- repeats a number of classic anti-gay talking points about the legal ramifications of legalizing same-sex marriage, including the claim that allowing gay couples to marry will somehow result in more heterosexual divorces:

The negative feedback of same-sex marriage on heterosexual marriage is likely to be enormous. If the institution of marriage is designed to help heterosexual couples remain together and connected to their children in a loving relationship, alterations to this institution to accommodate others necessarily weaken the institution. Heterosexual marriages become less stable and the result is higher divorce rates, as well as the negative social consequences that will follow.

The Dangerous Rise Of Sexual Politics”

One article, recommended specifically by Ruth Institute president Jennifer Roback Morse, attempts link same-sex marriage to the feminist movement, blaming the sexual revolution for causing “a massive restructuring of the social order” and “demographic trends that threaten the very survival of Western civilization.”

According to the article’s author, Dr. Stephen Baskerville, homosexuality has been politicized by feminists who seek to use “lesbianism” as a way of combating “heterosexual tyranny":

Sexual politics is both feminist and homosexual, with no distinct line separating them.  Feminism has been the more overtly political doctrine.  Until recently, gays asked mostly to be left alone and as such gained widespread sympathy.

Many homosexuals, especially males, probably do not consciously think about their sexuality in expressly political terms.  Yet homosexuality in itself can be a political statement, especially lesbianism, which for many constitutes the personal dimension of feminist ideology.  “Feminism is the theory, lesbianism is the practice,” in words attributed to Ti-Grace Atkinson.  “For many of today’s feminists, lesbianism is far more than a sexual orientation or even a preference.  It is, as students in many colleges learn, ‘an ideological, political, and philosophical means of liberation of all women from heterosexual tyranny.’” [emphasis added]

Baskerville goes on to argue that feminists have used the “child abuse industry” to take children away from their heterosexual parents and give them to same-sex couples:

Same-sex marriage is therefore only a symptom of the larger politicization of private and sexual life.  Further, just as the divorce revolution led to same-sex marriage, so through the child abuse industry it has extended this to parenting by same-sex couples. 

Most critiques of homosexual parenting have focused on the therapeutic question of whether it is developmentally healthy for children to be raised by two homosexuals. Few have stopped to ask the more momentous political question of where homosexual “parents” get children in the first place.  Here the discussion does not require esoteric child-development theory or psychological jargon from academic “experts.”  It can readily be understood by any parent who has been interrogated by Child Protective Services.  The answer is that homosexuals get other people’s children, and they get them from the same courts and social service bureaucracies that are operated by their feminist allies.  While attention has been focused on sperm donors and surrogate mothers, most of the children sought by potential homosexual parents are existing children whose ties to one or both of their natural parents have been severed.  Most often, this has happened through divorce. [emphasis added]

As extreme as this kind of anti-gay rhetoric is, none of it is actually new for NOM. Calling homosexuality unhealthy and dangerous, touting “ex-gay” therapy, blaming marriage equality for heterosexual divorce, and even accusing gay couples of trying to take children from their heterosexual parents -- it’s all in line with NOM’s brand of anti-gay misinformation. 

And -- if the “suggested reading” list reflects what’ll be discussed at the Ruth Institute’s ITAF conference in July -- a few unlucky college students are going to have the opportunity to experience that misinformation firsthand.


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