Listen Here to Today’s Press Teleconference on LGBT Parenting Research


Today, Soulforce convened a national press teleconference to speak out against an alarming disinformation campaign in America by those who oppose equality for gay and lesbian people and their families.

Social scientists and representatives from the American Psychiatric Association, American Counseling Association, American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers joined the call to review the reputable mainstream research on children raised by same-gender parents. They also described specific examples of how that research is distorted by James Dobson and others to justify discriminatory public policy and encouraged the media to fact-check such false claims in the future before they report them.

Soulforce was joined by Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out, who today announced a new website, www.RespectMyResearch.org, which includes a collection of videos, created by both organizations, that show social scientists refuting James Dobson’s dishonest claims. For complete bios of the social scientists on today’s press teleconference call, go to www.soulforce.org/article/1186.

Download MP3 file

Here is the direct link to the audio file if you want to download and listen to it offline.

Read the transcript

A transcript of the Press Teleconference on LGBT Parenting Research is available at www.soulforce.org/article/1198.

A Mission of Understanding: Young Gay Leaders on a Mission to Christian Colleges

Second Annual Soulforce Equality Ride Highlights Experiences of LGBT Students

Notre Dame – Pepperdine – BYU Among Stops

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: February 21, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Haven Herrin, West Bus Co-director
Cell: 469-867-5725, haven@soulforce.org
Katie Higgins, East Bus Co-director
Cell: 843-259-8876, katie@soulforce.org
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(Minneapolis, MN) — On March 8, 2007, fifty young adults will board 2 buses for the trip of a lifetime. The 8-week Soulforce Equality Ride will bring them to 32 Christian colleges with climates or policies that silence lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.

Their mission: to open a dialogue about the painful consequences of discrimination and the religion-based prejudice that sustains it.

"We come in pursuit of greater understanding," says Haven Herrin, Co-director of Soulforce Q, a youth-led movement within the national LGBT social justice group Soulforce. "Our goal is to foster a conversation about LGBT people and faith. While such conversations are often marked by politics and divisiveness, we bring open minds and hearts to academic settings, where we hope for a genuine exchange of ideas."

More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies that discriminate against LGBT students. In 2006, the inaugural Equality Ride traveled to 19 of those schools and held vigils, Bible studies, class discussions, and community forums. This year the Ride’s reach has nearly doubled. Equality Riders will bring their mix of education and advocacy to 2 separate routes that stop at 32 schools, including the University of Notre Dame, Pepperdine University, and Baylor University.

Herrin sees the diversity of this year’s cohort as another indicator of the project’s growth. "We come from a variety of experiences, a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. There are 5 straight allies on this year’s ride. There are 4 riders who identify as transgender. There are Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, and evangelical Christians. We’re all here to have a conversation with America’s next conservative religious generation about our personal lives and our personal relationships to the scriptures that the schools use to condemn us."

Eight of the 2007 riders are current or former students from schools on the 2006 ride, including Vince Cervantes and Vince Pancucci, a young couple who experienced Equality Ride 2006 as students at Azusa Pacific University. This evangelical Christian school welcomed the riders and hosted a public forum; more than 1,200 Azusa students listened, cried, and prayed for healing as Equality Riders shared their experiences of anti-gay violence. Inspired by that event, Cervantes and Pancucci have come out to the campus and become activists in their communities.

Says Cervantes, "I’ve had first-hand experience stepping up in a ‘faith-based’ community to authentically and vulnerably share all parts of my life. I aspire to open eyes, broaden views, and get people talking by sharing my story at the institutions we will visit on the Equality Ride."

Other highlights of the 2006 Equality Ride

  • When the Equality Ride was defaced by anti-gay graffiti, students from Lee University in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains joined the Equality Riders in washing the bus and restoring its original message: "Learn from history. End Religion-based discrimination."
  • After Regent University in Virginia barred the Riders from entering the campus, several Regent students approached the bus, some of them kneeling and taking the hands of Equality Riders in gestures of humility, and offered "an apology on behalf of Christians who have mistreated the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."
  • At Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, where Equality Riders were barred from making formal presentations or speeches, 9 current and former BYU students joined the Equality Riders in a "die-in" to represent the hundreds of LGBT young people who have ended their lives due to the Mormon church’s teachings on homosexuality. Twenty-four young leaders were arrested for trespassing on school grounds.

BYU junior Matt Kulisch, a member of the Latter Day Saints and one of the students who participated in the action, cited his faith as part of his motivation for being arrested with the Equality Riders. "My church has always taught me the principle of standing for something true. My integrity demanded that this message of God’s love for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people be told in its entirety."

What to watch for in 2007

This year the Equality Ride west bus will return to BYU with Kulisch and two other former BYU students on board. The 2007 Riders plan even more outreach to the community and a six-hour march around the walls of the Provo campus, where, according to the honor code, "No one known to be guilty of overt and active homosexual conduct is to be enrolled or permitted to remain…." Campus officials have made it clear that Riders will not be allowed to enter campus as a group or as individuals.

The west bus will begin its route at Notre Dame, where AllianceND, an LGBT student group, has been denied official status as a student organization for the past 2 years. Official student organizations may not be in conflict with the teachings of the Catholic church, which holds that homosexual orientation is "a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil." Although Notre Dame has established a Standing Committee to examine the climate for LGBT students, the university is currently indicating they will not welcome the Equality Ride visit on March 8 and 9.

In contrast, Calvin College, identified by a Princeton Review survey as one of the least hospitable schools for LGBT students, has invited the Equality Riders for dialogue and shared worship services. Pepperdine University in Malibu is also welcoming the Ride and collaborating on two full days of public forums and conversation.

The riders on the eastbound bus expect a different kind of experience at Bob Jones University, which has in recent years warned openly gay alumni that they will be arrested for trespassing if they attempt to return to campus. The South Carolina school turned to the Bible to keep African American students off campus until 1970 and to keep interracial dating a punishable offense until 2000. Led by east bus Co-Directors Katie Higgins and Jarrett Lucas, and by Mandy Matthias, a rider with close ties to Bob Jones University, the Riders plan to enter campus to engage students in conversations. They will also visit a non-profit art museum on campus that, by law, must be open to the public. It is not yet clear how administrators will respond.

"We are called to the places that cry out for justice and compassion," says Herrin. "Where is it the darkest? We will go there."


The 2007 Equality Ride is a project of Soulforce, a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org or www.equalityride.com.

Lesbian Couple Arrested for Peaceful Protest at Focus on the Family: Soulforce Campaign Asks Dobson to Take Steps Toward Reconciliation with LGBT Community

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: February 19, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Colorado Springs, CO) — At approximately 1:30 p.m. on February 19, 2007, Dotti Berry and Robynne Sapp of Blaine, Wash., were arrested and removed from Focus on the Family headquarters in police custody. The couple entered the building earlier in the day and refused to leave until the organization’s founder, James Dobson, takes a step toward reconciliation with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities by ceasing his misleading statements about research on lesbian and gay parents.

They have been charged with trespassing and have not yet been released.

"I am here today because I believed Dr. Dobson’s teachings for many years, and it almost led to my suicide. My healing came from my acceptance of myself and my acceptance that God loves me exactly as I am," said Sapp. Sapp and Berry have toured Focus on the Family twice before to dialogue with visitors and staff about LGBT individuals and families.

Dobson has consistently misrepresented LGBT families with misleading references to social science research. In recent months, several social scientists — including Dr. Carol Gilligan of New York University and Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale — have publicly rebuked him for mischaracterizing their research conclusions.

Dobson and other Focus spokespeople frequently discredit LGBT parenting with references to "more than 10,000 studies that have showed that children do best when they have a mom and a dad." According to the American Psychological Association (APA), such claims rely on "studies that simply do not address gay and lesbian parents and their children." Moreover, "no credible evidence shows that children raised by lesbian or gay parents differ in any important respects from those raised by heterosexual parents."

Berry and Sapp are the first participants in an ongoing campaign called "Focus on the Facts," which is modeled on Gandhi’s Satyagraha campaigns in South Africa and India. In the words of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi "rightly believed in the efficacy of pitting the soul force of the Satyagraha against the brute force of the oppressor and in effect converting the oppressor to the right and moral point."

"I am here to mirror Dr. Dobson’s human essence, so that the reflection will cause him to fully understand why it is important to begin telling a new and true story, one that empowers all of us," says Berry.

Berry and Sapp will speak to the media outside Focus on the Family headquarters when they are released later this afternoon.

The Focus on the Facts campaign is coordinated by Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization founded on principles of nonviolence. For more than a decade, members and allies of Soulforce have confronted Focus on the Family’s anti-gay rhetoric and publicized its harmful impact on the lives of individuals, parents, and children.


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Focus on the Facts: Robynne Sapp and Dotti Berry

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On February 19, 2007, Dotti Berry and Robynne Sapp of Blaine, Washington were arrested and removed from Focus on the Family headquarters in police custody. The couple entered the building earlier in the day and refused to leave until the organization’s founder, James Dobson, takes a step toward reconciliation with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities by ceasing his misleading statements about research on lesbian and gay parents.

The "Focus on the Facts" campaign is coordinated by Soulforce, a national LGBT social justice organization founded on principles of nonviolence. For more than a decade, members and allies of Soulforce have confronted Focus on the Family’s anti-gay rhetoric and publicized its harmful impact on the lives of individuals, parents, and children.

Read Dotti and Robynne’s report.

"Focus on the Facts" video produced by Kate Burns.

Soulforce Launches Civil Disobedience Campaign at Focus on the Family Headquarters in Colorado Springs

Lesbian Couple Refuses to Leave Until Dobson Takes Steps Toward Reconciliation With LGBT Community

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ADVISORY: February 19, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Colorado Springs, CO) — Soulforce, a national civil rights and social justice organization, has launched an ongoing campaign called "Focus on the Facts," which aims to intervene in James Dobson and Focus on the Family’s representations of lesbian and gay families through an ongoing campaign of civil disobedience modeled on Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolent social change.

What: Lesbian couple enters Focus on the Family headquarters to engage in dialogue and civil resistance: they seek an end to anti-gay propaganda.
When: Monday, February 19, 2007 at 11:00 a.m. MST
Where: Focus on the Family, 8605 Explorer Dr., Colorado Springs, CO

 

At approximately 11:00 a.m., Dotti Berry and Robynne Sapp of Blaine, Wash., entered Focus on the Family headquarters to join a regularly scheduled tour. Once inside, the two women will attempt to speak with visitors and staff about the organization’s defamation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans. They will not leave voluntarily until Focus on the Family (FotF) and James Dobson promise to cease their misleading statements about research on lesbian and gay parents. Arrests are possible.

Berry and Sapp, who have entered FotF twice before, are the first participants in the "Focus on the Facts" campaign.

Dobson and his staff at FotF have consistently misrepresented LGBT families as dangerous and undeserving of equal protection under the law. These dehumanizing portrayals are often bolstered by misleading references to social science research. In December 2006, two prominent researchers–Dr. Carol Gilligan and Dr. Kyle Pruett–publicly rebuked Dobson for mischaracterizing their research in his TIME Magazine editorial about Mary Cheney’s pregnancy.

For more information about James Dobson’s misrepresentation of social science research, visit: www.soulforce.org/article/899.


Focus on the Facts is a project of Soulforce, a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Soulforce Posts Video of NYU Sociologist Who Claims Focus on the Family Distorted Research on LGBT Parents

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: February 12, 2007
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org
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(Austin, TX) — Today Soulforce posted a YouTube video of Dr. Judith Stacey, a Professor of Sociology at New York University (NYU), who claims that James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and other anti-equality groups have misrepresented her research on lesbian and gay parenting.

In her video statement, Stacey calls Focus on the Family’s use of her work "a complete distortion" and clarifies that "there is absolutely nothing in the article we wrote, nor in any of the research that has yet been published, that would warrant any form of discrimination against parents on the basis of sexual orientation." Her comments are excerpted from a 2005 Soulforce video titled Dear Dr. Dobson: An Open Video Letter to Focus on the Family.

In December 2006, Dobson authored a TIME Magazine editorial condemning Mary Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, for their decision to have a child. Two of the social scientists Dobson cited in his opinion piece, Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale and Dr. Carol Gilligan of NYU, have publicly contested Dobson’s use of their research to rationalize discrimination against lesbian and gay parents. In recent weeks, the organization Truth Wins Out has posted statements from Pruett and Gilligan on YouTube, and today Soulforce adds Dr. Stacey’s voice to the growing archive that documents Dobson and Focus on the Family’s misrepresentation of research.

"For many years James Dobson has manipulated the social science research to breed discrimination," says Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes. "He did so frequently and freely, knowing that the public and the media would not take the time to fact-check his false claims. But now, a growing number of fair-minded Americans are holding him accountable and demanding that he demonstrate the primary characteristic of true Christianity. That, of course, is honesty."

In 2001, Stacey and a colleague, Dr. Timothy Biblarz, authored an analysis of 21 studies of lesbian and gay families. In that article, Stacey and Biblarz noted preliminary evidence of some "modest and interesting" differences between children raised by heterosexual parents and children raised by lesbian and gay parents, but they affirmed that "parental sexual orientation has no measurable effect on the quality of parent-child relationships or on children’s mental health or adjustment."

In the video released today, Stacey expresses her dismay that the "article has been cited and posted on a host of very anti-gay-family sites. Dobson is one," she continues, "[and] there have been many others."


Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

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