Thursday, December 30, 2010

Summer Vocation!

I must admit that at first I somewhat resented having to write the following letter to the editor of The Port Macquarie Independent. After all, I am here in Australia on holiday . . . or vacation, as they say back in the States!

But, truth be told, I long ago concluded that my "work" as a gay Catholic advocate, activist and educator is actually a vocation. And as Jonah of old discovered, one doesn't easily get away from that kind of calling. Not even while on vacation.

And so soon after my arrival in Australia a couple of weeks ago, I found myself compelled to research and write a response to gay marriage opponent John Martin's December 9 letter to the editor. My response was published in this week's edition of The Port Macquarie Independent and is reprinted below with added links.


Discredited Statistics

In denouncing same-sex marriage, John Martin (Port Macquarie Independent, Dec. 9, 2010) contends that there is a significant decrease in life expectancy for sexually active gay men and lesbians. He quotes figures from Denmark but fails to cite any specific study. A quick search of the Internet shows that these statistics are the work of discredited “researcher” Paul Cameron. [See Footnotes 2-4 of this online article.]

Cameron first claimed in 1993 that homosexuality reduces life expectancy by 30 years. The methods used to make this claim, however, have been widely condemned [see, for example, here], and the only groups that highlight his “findings” are reactionary organizations such as the American Family Association (recently designated a “hate group” by a major human rights organization in the U.S).

Cameron has also come under fire for misrepresenting the research findings of others. In 2001 a group of doctors published an open letter protesting that their findings had been distorted by “homophobic groups more interested in restricting the human rights of gays and bisexuals than promoting their health and well being.”

More credible studies than Cameron’s include those conducted by the University of Minnesota, the results of which were published in the September 2008 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Homosexuality. This particular study found that it is the degree of internalized homo-negative feelings and not the degree of homosexuality that predicts poor mental and sexual health. Positive attitudes towards homosexuality, conversely, are associated with better mental and sexual health. [For's report on these findings, see here.]

These findings support individual and societal efforts to reduce homo-negativity and affirm gay people for who they are. The legalization of same-sex marriage is one such effort deserving of support.

- Michael J. Bayly
Executive Director
Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
(Currently holidaying with my parents in Port Macquarie!)

See also the previous Wild Reed post:
Knowing What to Do, Knowing Why to Stay

Image: "Jonah and the Whale" (detail) by Keith Tucker.


Paula said...

Kudos, Michael. Great depiction of Jonah too. Can you tell if the homophobic meme is waning in New South Wales? Does The Independent reflect the culture?

Mareczku said...

That was very interesting. I read the article about age of death which was quite informative.