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07/23/2012

A new, nakedly hostile NOM era has 'Dawned'

by Jeremy Hooper

For the past decade or so, a woman named Dawn Stefanowicz has been sharing her horror tales of growing up with a gay papa in the '60s and '70s, becoming a darling with uber-far-right figures like Peter LaBarbera. Dawn has been featured in extremely fringe publications like the American Family Association's Journal, where the scare tactics truly read like the plot line from a horror movie:

Screen Shot 2012-07-23 At 8.30.43 Am
[AFA Journal]

I've always been deeply bothered by Dawn's cause for a number of reasons. First and foremost: Her father has been dead for twenty-one years. He is not here to tell his story. As best I can tell, there are no other family members talking. It's just the deeply religious Dawn who is turning her one-sided tale of supposed heartbreak into an adult gig. (*Dawn quite tellingly mentions on her website that "it was not until [her] father, his sexual partners and [her] mother had died, was [she] free to speak publicly about [her] experiences." That comment alone should raise a red flag for anyone seeking objective truth!)

Then there's the matter of projection. Dawn is taking one story of growing up in a gay-headed household thirty, forty years ago and using it as some sort of cautionary tale against every gay-headed household worldwide. This in enraging! How many grown children have tales of woe delivered to them at the hand of a heterosexual parent or parents? The answer is as obvious as it is infinite. Yet none of us would ever try to use one of those tales to say "STRAIGHT PARENTING IS BAD." That, however, is exactly what Dawn and her allies are doing against gay parenting.

So now Dawn is back in the spotlight with this same cause. And you know who is helping her this time around? Why the increasingly hostile and personally-targeted National Organization For Marriage, of course:

Screen Shot 2012-07-23 At 8.33.49 Am
[NOM Blog]

Here's the thing: Zach Wahls (who I've had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know a little bit) is not trying to demonize— he is simply saying that he had an experience growing up with two mothers, and that he is prospering as an adult who has been lucky enough to know this kind of love. Zach is not saying that his story is transferrable to everyone—he is just saying that he has a story that belies so many of the stereotypes and/or demonizations that plague this debate, and he thinks that people need to hear what he has to say. Oh, and his parents are here in the mortal world for purposes of verification.

For NOM to compare Zach's work with Dawn's tells you just about all you need to know about the National Organization For Marriage circa 2012. This is an organization that, for all of its considerable faults, used to be quite strategically adept at sticking to the subject of the marriage debate and staying away from the fringes of the larger "pro-family" movement. But now, NOM is getting deeply personal. NOM is no longer focused on just denying marriage rights to Zach Wahls' parents—NOM is now out to "counterbalance" the "nicey-nicey images" with faith-motivated, politically-driven, negligently-propagated portraiture of suffering. NOM's new vision and goalposts are apparent, and they clearly go far beyond just civil marriage policy.

I don't understand the calculation, since those of us on the side of fairness, equality, and human welfare quite fully know that fleshing out the oppositional animus is our key to victory, both in the court of public opinion as well as in the court of law. But then again, I would never try to understand the thinking patterns of an organization that turns on its lights every day so that it can further its sole purpose of hurting fellow Americans.

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