Del. Kathy Afzali attacks Question 6, gay parents

Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Middletown) represents much of Frederick County, including my community. Here is her October 24 constituent newsletter, in which she opposes Question 6.

As MetroWeekly puts it: “Many of her ‘arguments’ are talking points used in commercials by the Maryland Marriage Alliance (MMA), and in other states by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the chief funder of MMA. They include disparaging gay parents, race-based arguments and implying homosexuality is a choice.”

How bad is Afzali’s newsletter? Consider the two remarkably absurd and insulting talking points with which it closes:

* “What makes it hard for a girl to grow up with a gay father is that she never gets to see him loving, honoring, or protecting the women in his life.” (From “Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting)
* Women with gay or bisexual fathers are significantly less comfortable with closeness and intimacy, less able to trust and depend on others, and experience more anxiety in relationships than women with heterosexual fathers. (Arch Psychiatric Nursing 2009)

The first of these two quotes is from a memoir that has circulated in obscure rightist circles by a woman who had a horrible experience with her own father and jumps to drastic generalizations about the experience of millions of other kids whose parents are gay. If Del. Afzali truly believes that children raised by gay men “never” get to see their parents loving, honoring, or protecting women, then she really needs to get out more. If she puts such things in her newsletter without stopping to think whether she actually believes them, then she needs a different approach toward constituent communication.

The second of the two quotes can quickly be traced to its source, an article in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, through a Google search. Had Del. Afzali spent a few moments on such a search to check it out, she would have found that the author of the study, Seton Hall nursing professor Theodora Sirota, has protested that anti-gay advocates were misrepresenting her research in furtherance of their agenda:

Dr. Sirota told me today by phone that her study could not be used to make a generalization about same-sex couples because the participants in her study did not grow up in same-sex homes. Instead, they grew up in what she called, “heterosexually-organized families where fathers were gay or bisexual.” In other words, the parents were in a mixed orientation marriage, where the mother was straight and the father was gay or bisexual.

Divorce or other forms of instability are common in such marriages, and such outcomes are well known to correlate with higher rates of relationship problems for children on reaching maturity. In other words, Afzali’s sources twisted a conventional finding (children face greater risks if their parents break up) into a completely unsupported assertion (the risks are not from the breakup but because the father was gay).

Thanks to John Riley of MetroWeekly for crediting us with breaking this story. I’ve written elsewhere about some of the other problems with “gay parents are bad” advocacy like the sort Del. Afzali relies on.

— Walter Olson

Update: Del. Afzali went on to vigorously promote, and speak at, a rally in Frederick’s Baker Park for “God-ordained marriage” in which a highlight was local pastor Luke Robinson’s speech noting that Hurricane Sandy struck New York City after Mayor Michael Bloomberg extended his support to same-sex marriage.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Del. Kathy Afzali attacks Question 6, gay parents

  1. Kevin Waterman

    As a Seton Hall alumnus (although not one that ever knew Dr. Sirota), it’s encouraging to see her research doesn’t show what people like Del. Afzali are claiming it does.

  2. Del. Afzali’s comments on the dangers of marriage equality call to mind the comments of a US Senator, who stated years ago that the races could not intermarry because we would wind up with polka dot kids.

  3. This affirms the continued importance of people having conversations with people, even in the voting line on Election Day. Let’s tell the truth about our experiences as gay and lesbian couples and remind folks that people can cherry-pick or purposely misrepresent portions of holy texts and scientific (and allegedly scientific) studies to legitimize their positions.

  4. Justin

    So where is the “conservative” argument for gay marriage? I see all the regular ones. How many posts do I have to read before something resembling a conservative argument emerges?

  5. Pingback: Frederick GOP promotes “worship, praise” rally today for “God-ordained marriage” | Maryland for All Families

  6. Pingback: Del. Kathy Afzali: she can’t stop making news | Free State Notes

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