LGBT Activists, Let's Take Back 'Pro-Family'

When same-sex couples are given the opportunity to raise a family, we see it as a privilege. We are fighting to make the formation of families with all legal protections a right, not a privilege. It's time we reclaim the label "pro-family," because we have the protection offamilies in mind.
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It's time to stop calling anti-gay groups and individuals "pro-family." I have learned that if the word "family" is in an organization's name, then I can expect them to be working against the creation and support of families in reality. Similarly, if a politician says she is "pro-family," you can expect her to fight against most bills that strengthen all families. The media, along with many pro-gay activists, tend to label these groups "pro-family." The same label is applied to conservative policy makers, who tend to fight against any gay-rights legislation. Instead of being "pro-family," these groups and individuals are the opposite. Their goals are to break up families, make them struggle financially and demonize families that do not fit into the traditional "nuclear model." It is time we start calling these organizations and individuals their true label: anti-family.

One must only look to a few of these organizations to see how their views hurt families. The Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg, when asked about uniting immigrants with their American partners, suggested we "export" all gays from the country. Another example: The Family Research Institute claims that homosexuals molest children at a far higher rate than heterosexuals, which is a myth that has been proven wrong by countless research studies. Lastly, the Marriage & Family Foundation opposes all domestic partner benefits -- benefits that facilitate important functions of family, such as end-of-life rights -- because such laws "diminish the status of marriage." These are only three of the organizations describing themselves as "pro-family." On the contrary, their views that gays should not be united, are harmful to children and do not deserve basic legal rights do not promote familial relationships. Instead, they demonize gay couples and their families. They make it harder for gay families to live stable lives.

How can a person be "pro-family" and push for the exclusion of gays from equal rights in marriage and domestic partner benefits? By allowing two loving persons to enter into a relationship with all the legal benefits enjoyed by the rest of society, we promote the creation of stable families. When we oppose equality and enact discriminatory laws, we prevent new families from forming. I would think that a "pro-family" advocate would be happy that more families are forming. What we learn is that these individuals want to see only opposite-sex families survive and proliferate, and they want to prevent the legitimacy of families headed by same-sex couples.

The assertion that marriage discrimination harms families is not shared by pro-gay activists alone. Some of the best evidence that LGBT families are being harmed from exclusion of marital benefits is the testimony of Prop 8 opponents from the Perry trial. David Boies, attorney for the challengers of Prop 8, pointed out that wild claims about the harm of marriage equality will not stand up to the scrutiny of a court of law. A person's testimony must be supported by facts and evidence. The opposing attorney then has the opportunity to poke holes in the testimony. When asked about the impact of marriage equality in California, the key witness for Prop 8's proponents admitted that marriage would improve the stability of LGBT couples. The witness also admitted that allowing marriage equality would actually reduce the divorce rate and protect children. When the anti-gay activists' own witness admits such facts, it shows the weakness of opposing marriage equality.

Many LGBT couples will form families despite the law, but they face countless hurdles. Gay couples still faced discrimination when filing federal taxes after Illinois passed the civil-unions bills last year; some couples were faced with thousands of dollars in filing and attorney fees that their opposite-sex counterparts did not incur. This financial instability harms families, both in the wallet and psychologically. It is another reminder to LGBT couples that their relationships are unequal in the eyes of the federal government. Such emotional stress can only harm existing families, especially children.

On a personal level, I am most concerned with the harm that the anti-gay organizations do to children. It is hard enough for children to avoid teasing and bullying at school, but the added humiliation of being told your family is illegitimate adds to the problem. What, exactly, do these anti-gay organizations claim LGBT families have? Are they in a mere union? A contractual relationship? What kind of message does this send to children inside and outside same-sex families?

Anti-gay activists can't have it both ways. They can't claim they support the strengthening of families while focusing their efforts on hurting society's most vulnerable families. Labeling these organizations "pro-family" implies that gay-rights activists are somehow anti-family. We are unable to marry, adopt children and enjoy the same rights in a majority of states. When same-sex couples are given the opportunity to raise a family, we see it as a privilege. We are fighting to make the formation of families with all legal protections a right, not a privilege. For these reasons, we are the real pro-family advocates. It's time we reclaim the label "pro-family," because we have the protection and support of all families in mind.

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