Religious right nut Paul Cameron, whose “Nazi”-like research (that’s the word of the Southern Poverty Law Center, not me) forms the basis of much of the religious right’s anti-gay “science,” is calling on Republican US Senator Rob Portman of Ohio to “urge” his gay son “to marry a woman.” Cameron made the demand in a press release blasted around the Web.
Portman famously embraced his gay son last month when announcing his new-found support for gay marriage.
While it’s easy to laugh off Cameron’s nuttiness, he is a dangerous and influential man. As I’d written before about him, he was kicked out of the American Psychological Association, and was publicly rebuked by the Nebraska Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. And he has been called the leader of a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, America’s number one civil rights organization for tracking the klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The Southern Poverty Law Center went so far as to say that “Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” And the SPLC tracks actual Nazis, so they have the right to make the comparison.
But that didn’t stop the religious right from using Cameron’s work up until very recently. A House committee in Colorado in 2011 used Cameron’s testimony to kill a civil union bill. And just this past year, John Boehner’s lawyer, Paul Clement, who argued against gay marriage before the Supreme Court recently, cited research that was in part based on Cameron’s nutty hate-science.
My point being that while Cameron is a lead nut amongst the nuts, his work, sadly, has had a profound impact. Among other things, Cameron’s claim that gay men usually die by the age of 40 (or so) was parroted by the lead GOP religious right groups ad infinitum. In fact, Cameron’s “study” involved reading the obits in some gay papers in the early 1990s, at the height of the AIDS crisis, and averaging out the dates of death.
Well, guess what? In the early 90s, most of the obituaries in the gay papers were of young guys dying of complications arising from HIV/AIDS. The guys who lived longer didn’t have obituaries. So, because the average age of the obituaries was 40 or so, Cameron, and much of the religious right, used that to suggest that gay men tend to die young. It was a total lie, and one that the lead religious right groups were happy to spread.
But that doesn’t stop Cameron from citing his newest version of the lie to Senator Portman:
“Danish government statistics show that wedded gays and lesbians die 10 to 20 years earlier than the conventionally married,”said Cameron, citing a study of gay marriage by pro-LGBT researchers Morten Frisch and Jacob Simonsen which appeared in the March, 2013 issue of Oxford’s International Journal of Epidemiology.
Examining Denmark, which in 1989 became the first country with gay marriage, they found that the average age of death for homosexually married men and women was around 60; for the conventionally married, about 80 years.
Dr. Frisch was none too pleased that Cameron had totally abused his research, calling it “a tragic parody of science.”
Cameron continues in his press release directed at Senator Portman:
Cameron said, “In fact, twin studies show that homosexual interests are not DNA-determined like race, gender and eye color, so gay analogies to the Civil Rights struggles of the last century are inapt,” Cameron said. “How else does one explain how Ellen DeGeneres’ first ‘lifetime partner’ could abandon homosexuality for traditional marriage? Senator Portman’s son was no more ‘born with’ homosexual preferences than anyone is ‘born with’ a sexual taste for children — both are acquired and can be controlled.”
Yes, how else could we explain that Ellen Degeneres’ lesbian partner left her for a man. Um, cuz she’s bi?
Among Paul Cameron’s other proud claims: that Obama was “probably” gay; that if AIDS spread, the extermination of gays might prove necessary; he’s advocated tattooing AIDs patients in the face, and banishing them to a leper colony (then again, he’s not very far off from Mike Huckabee’s position on the matter).
But perhaps Paul Cameron was at his best when he appeared to suggest that we could learn lessons from the commandant of Auschwitz as to how to treat gay people (you might recall that gays were among those targeted in the Holocaust). Cameron’s long invocation of a Nazi even turned off Dr. Warren Throckmorton of the uber-conservative Grove City College. Up until a few years ago, Throckmorton was a lead anti-gay voice in the religious right.
Again, it’s easy to laugh off Paul Cameron as just another religious right nut, but when John Boehner’s lawyer is citing studies in his legal briefs that are based on Paul Cameron’s research, and when Paul Cameron is traveling to oppressive anti-gay countries like Moldova as an “expert witness” on sexual orientation, he’s more than just a nut. He’s a dangerous nut. Senator Portman should be clear on who he’s dealing with.