Dr. Judith Stacey makes statement as Soulforce begins 1000 WATT MARCH, VIGIL & CONCERT to peacefully confront Focus on the Family’s blatant anti-gay bigotry and discrimination.
Nine families begin 65-mile relay march from Colorado state capitol to Focus on the Family Headquarters.
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: July 17, 2006
For Immediate Release
Contact: Richard Lindsay, Interim Media Director
(DENVER, CO) — Wearing orange t-shirts that glowed brightly in the hazy mountain sun, nine Soulforce families gathered today to kick off the 1000 Watt March, Vigil and Concert, confronting the anti-gay misinformation of political power broker James Dobson and his multi-million dollar organization, Focus on the Family.
Joining the families for a press conference to kickoff the 65-mile relay march from Denver to the headquarters of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs was Dr. Judith Stacey, a professor of sociology from New York University. Stacey’s research on the children of same-sex parents has been misquoted by Focus on the Family to justify discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and their families.
Stacey reiterated for the assembled families and news media the basic conclusion of her research: "The sexual orientation or gender combination of the parents raising children does not have much impact on children’s development; the quality of the parents’ relationship and the quality of their parenting does." Stacey concluded that although there can be slight variations, even advantages, to the development of children of same-sex parents, these were "differences, not deficiencies."
Stacey contradicted the argument most often made in denying same-sex couples the equal rights and responsibilities of marriage: that children do better in families headed by heterosexual couples. "Whenever you hear Focus on the Family, legislators or lawyers say, ‘studies prove that children do better in families with a mother and a father,’ they are referring to studies which compare two-parent heterosexual households to single-parent households. The studies they are talking about do not cite research on families headed by gay and lesbian couples." Stacey said the tragedy of this inaccurate quoting of legitimate research is that it has real negative effects on same-sex couples and their children. She cited the recent New York state superior court decision that used this unproven argument to deny same-sex couples and their children the rights and benefits of marriage.
"The bottom line is there is no research-based reason to deny rights to same-sex couples and their children. We should be passing laws and making policies that make life easier for all families — not harder."
Soulforce executive director Jeff Lutes, a family therapist and father of two sons with his partner Gary Stein, led the first leg of the relay march from Denver to Colorado Springs.
"We are marching from the Denver state capitol building to Focus on the Family’s headquarters because James Dobson’s lies make it into state houses and legislatures like this one all across the country and effect the lives of families like mine" Lutes said.
Referring to his 1 year-old and 9 year-old sons, who had joined their dads for the march, Lutes said, "And more importantly, James Dobson’s lies make it to children like mine, who are told their parents are sick, sinful and second-class. As a father who loves his family, that has to stop."
Lutes continued, "Over the years, Americans have discriminated against people of color, against women, against mixed-race couples, against different religious groups — all in the name of religion. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are just the latest group of Americans to be discriminated against on this basis. James Dobson, Focus on the Family and all Americans need to learn from history and put an end to religion-based discrimination once and for all."
The families then descended the state capitol steps and headed through downtown Denver towards the southern suburbs to begin the 13-mile first leg of the 65-mile relay march, carrying a banner that read, "Learn from history; end religion-based discrimination against our families." In total, 34 families will take part in the march, each walking around four and a half miles.
This Saturday July 22 at 6 PM, actor Chad Allen and Judy Shepard, executive director of The Matthew Shepard Foundation, will lead a final 2-mile march from Rampart Park in Colorado Springs to the headquarters of Focus on the Family. The crowd will encircle James Dobson’s headquarters, joining hearts and hands in vigil as they peacefully call on him to cease his defamation of the LGBT community. At 8:30 PM Broadway star Billy Porter will protest in song outside Focus on the Family, with an electrifying jazz concert that celebrates the lives of all people and loving relationships that seek the American dream. The entire community – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, their families, friends and supporters, are invited to the final march and concert.
To find out more about the Soulforce 1000 Watt March, Vigil and Concert, please see: www.soulforce.org/1000wattmarch.
Consistent with the first step in the principles of nonviolence taught by Gandhi and King, Soulforce researched and documented false claims by Focus on the Family about LGBT people, couples and families. That research is compiled in a booklet, entitled "A False Focus on My Family" and a DVD, entitled, "Dear Dr. Dobson." This powerful and eye-opening booklet is available free online at www.soulforce.org/article/false-focus-family and the DVD is available free to press upon request.
Soulforce’s purpose 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.