By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
The civil rights progress achieved by the LGBT community in the New England states has met with opposition from a variety of organizations billing themselves as “pro-family.”
These organizations do what they can to influence legislators into sponsoring bills which promote their conservative agenda. They have worked to keep marriage as a union between a man and woman only, as well as to curtail funding for abortions, and to keep sex education and promotion of condom use out of public schools.
In the Bay State, the main anti-LGBT organization is the Massachusetts Family Institute. MFI was founded in 1991 and bills itself as “a non-partisan public policy organization dedicated to strengthening families in Massachusetts and affirming the Judeo-Christian values upon which it is based.”
MFI boats on its web site – www.mafamily.org – that it has been a proactive, public voice on issues including educating families and children about the dangers of unsafe Internet use, preventing sexual abuse of children, restricting gambling throughout the state, and strengthening, protecting, and preserving marriage between a man and a woman.
The organization’s opposition to marriage between same-gender couples is explained in the following paragraph:
“In keeping with the Judeo-Christian values that our society was founded upon, MFI believes that all sex outside of heterosexual marriage is detrimental to families and that includes homosexuality. Our compassion is for those struggling with same-sex attraction and we encourage the healing of individuals who wish to change their choice of lifestyle through the work of Exodus International, Love Won Out and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays. MFI strongly opposes any efforts by political activists to normalize homosexual behavior and all attempts to equate homosexuality with immutable characteristics such as skin color, or the “gay rights” movement with the civil rights movement.”
Among the bills that MFI is vowing to oppose include a transgender rights bill, which MFI dismissively brands as a “Bathroom Bill.”
“The homosexual special interest groups have pledged once again to devote significant resources to a bill that would normalize transvestism or so-called ‘transgenderism.’ If adopted, this bill would allow virtually anyone, regardless of sex, to enter single-sex bathrooms and locker rooms including public schools. It would also add the vague term ‘gender identity or expression’ to the hate crimes law.”
MFI also objects to comprehensive sex education in public schools, in addition to funding for “homosexual agenda” in schools.
“MFI will continue to work to eliminate taxpayer funding for groups such as the state’s Independent Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth that seek to normalize homosexuality in the eyes of school children. Organizations and promoters of these programs continue to use the guise of ‘suicide prevention’ and ‘diversity’ training to gain support for the funding, and demonize those who question the wisdom of encouraging behavior that is dangerous and potentially deadly.”
Another “pro-family” group is Mass Resistance, which has filed bills for the 2011 legislative session which include eliminating the Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth.
According to Mass Resistance’s website: “Many of these ‘Commission’ activities are extremely graphic, explicit, and dangerous, and often include other homosexual, transgender, and even sadomasochist activists mingling with kids. There is no oversight to this commission, and their activities over the last few years have outraged parents and even public officials. In addition, last summer one adult commission member was arrested for soliciting homosexual sex from a minor.”
The group also wants to repeal an anti-bullying law, passed last year.
“It was written primarily by political activists – particularly from homosexual groups -who included their special-interest programs in the bill. Much of it is from the GLSEN website,” explains Mass Resistance.
Another bill – “An Act Regarding Parental Notification and Consent,” amends the current parental notification law written by Parents’ Rights Coalition (now MassResistance), expanding upon it and modernizing it to address current conditions.
Explains Mass Resistance: “It will effectively stop their agenda in the schools by giving parents the right to decide what their children are introduced to regarding sexual perversions. It is very specific rather than vague, and changes the current ‘opt out’ to ‘opt-in’ – like every other elective in the schools. Right now, ‘sexuality’ is the only opt-out subject in school curriculums. The homosexual groups like that because it makes it difficult, intimidating, and embarrassing for parents and kids.”
Among the accomplishments the group boasts about are: the passage of the Parental Notification Law, the successful fight “to stop dangerous bills filed in the Mass. Legislature for: mandatory sexuality and homosexuality education in schools; decriminalization of bestiality and sodomy; and legalization of homosexual ‘marriage’ through statute.”
The Family Policy Council, based in Maine, was instrumental in repealing marriage rights for same-sex couples in that state in 2009.
Last March, the organization issued a press release which included the following: “It is one thing if homosexuals want to live quietly in their homes and their private clubs; after all, it is a free country. But the homosexual activists want to force their will on us, influence our families by redefining the blessed institution of marriage for the rest of us, fool the educators and the kids in our schools with the slogan: “it is everybody’s business”.
The Family Institute of Connecticut has also taken a leading role in opposing marriage rights for same-gender couples. The organization supported amending the United States Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to be a union between a man and a woman only.
The FIC also attempted unsuccessfully to amend the state Constitution to prevent same-gender couples from marrying in Connecticut.
New Hampshire’s Cornerstone Action and Cornerstone Policy Research have also devoted themselves to opposing any type of LGBT civil rights legislation.
Cornerstone’s vision is “to create an environment in which strong families-the foundation of our society-can lead New Hampshire into a new era of prosperity and strength.”
The Executive Director of Cornerstone is Kevin Smith, a former NH State Representative. Smith earned the Christian Coalition’s “Pro-Family” House Member of the Year honor in 1998.
In Rhode Island, the state chapter of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has flooded the radio and television airwaves with ads in an attempt to stop a same-sex marriage bill from being passed.
Recently, it was revealed that NOM was lying in its mailers to Ocean State voters when it claimed that very young children in Massachusetts were being taught about gay marriage.
Several LGBT organizations continue to counteract the hateful propaganda spread by groups such as the Massachusetts Family Institute.
The battle to protect marriage rights in the Bay State has been a top priority of Mass Equality.
“As the years go by since marriage equality become the law of the land in Massachusetts, we continue to witness how equal marriage is good for families, the community, and the economy, and hurts no one,” said Kara Suffredini, Executive Director of Mass Equality.
Suffredini said that the predictions made by groups like the Massachusetts Family Institute and Mass Resistance about what marriage would bring are “not only flat wrong, but nothing more than fear mongering.”
Still, the financial contributions these groups make to political candidates who are opposed to any type of pro-LGBT legislation make them a powerful force to be reckoned with.
“In 2010, we bucked the Tea Party Express and elected another supermajority of pro-LGBT lawmakers,” Suffredini added. “And voter by voter, election by election, that’s what we’ll continue to do to promote family values that value all families in Massachusetts.”
Lee Swislow, the Executive Director of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), said the anti-LGBT organizations still have a lot of power.
“They may be losing their influence among some segments of the population, but among others I think they still have a lot of influence and they’re fighting us hard,” Swislow noted.
Swislow says the LGBT community should focus their energies on promoting a positive message, instead of worrying about the “pro-family” groups’ misleading messages.
“We know the most important thing any (LGBT person) can do is to be out and talk with their family and friends about their lives,” Swislow said. “Our message is about our basic humanity, fairness, and equality.”