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07/23/2012

Why the 'pro-family' forces fib (tell a lie long enough…)

by Jeremy Hooper

I was struck by this comment on the National Organization For Marriage's blog from a reader who trusted NOM to clue her in to some semblance of truth:

Screen Shot 2012-07-23 At 4.32.47 Pm

Well commenter, you likely had no clue because this is a complete and utter of the bastardization of the truth. I know, because I was there from the very first second of the Chick-fil-A controversy—the first person to put it out there. So let me tell you what happened.

In January of 2011, the anti-equality Pennsylvania Family Institute announced that it has *partnered* with Chick-fil-A to sponsor a particular marriage seminar. When those of us who fight against the agenda of groups like PFI noticed the announcement (led by this writer and this site), we simply asked questions. There was no rage, really—there was simply an attempt to let Chick-fil-A know what it had gotten itself into. And as it turns out, the company was clearly grateful of the insight, as the PFI site was changed just a few days later so that the sponsorship was no longer listed (at which point it was clarified that they were only going to give sandwiches).

Had it stopped there, that would've been the end of it. However, it didn't stop there because Michael Geer, president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, started going in the "pro-family" press and deliberately twisting what actually happened, working to push this very site, by name, into an unfavorable light. I don't take kindly to that kind of thing. When Geer started running his mouth in such a fallacious way, that's when I started digging on this, a matter that I had thought I was completely done with covering. In fact, if you want to know the person most responsible for making me continue to pull the thread that extends to this very day, then I can tell you right form the horse's mouth: Look to PFI's Michael Geer and his deliberate misinformation campaign. He is the catalyst.

So yeah, I started digging. When I did, I discovered Chick-fil-A–sponsored marriage retreats that featured speakers like Maggie Gallagher and were packed with all kinds of anti-LGBT teaching. Then I found out that the company's Winshape retreat explicitly banned same-sex couples, married or not. Then my friends at Equality Matters started digging into the finances, discovering that a lot of Chick-fil-A cash is going to various anti-equality groups. And so on and so forth. The more we pulled the thread, the more that seemed to fall out.

Which brings us to this week, a time when we now know that Dan Cathy, the President and COO of this prominent American company, believes that we gay folk are shaking ours fists at God and inciting his holy judgment through nothing other than our love. What is so remarkable about these latest comments is that they were delivered after a full year of controversy directed at the company. Dan Cathy didn't care—he doubled down, brazenly thinking we had moved on and that he could get away with making us sound like God's worst enemies without us having anything to say in return. He was wrong.


So back to that NOM reader's comment: The anti-equality side has been trying, since day one of this debate, to skew the conversation so that Chick-fil-A sounds like nothing more than a "traditional marriage" supportive company, and we sound like unreasonable militants who were so bored with our day-to-day lives that we tried to make a certain marriage seminar's participants go hungry. All through this dance, I've watched the usual suspects (NOM, AFA, FRC, blahblahblah) twist the facts, overlook the key reasons for concern, and keep telling lies in hopes that their defensive version of events would become the accepted truth. And annoyingly, it works a lot of the time, even in the mainstream media. There is a snowball effect that happens, and if groups like NOM can get supporters, a few journalists, and assorted drum-beaters to pass on the torch that's more concerned with burning certain rights than it is with illuminating an honest debate, then they can dupe many to follow their rhetorically cheap echo megaphone.

But it's not about sandwiches. It never was, for us or them.

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