Slay It With a Smile

Paul Cameron's mission to stop homosexuality is hard to swallow

He's already addressed the topic. In his pamphlet The Psychology of Homosexuality, Cameron argues that homosexuals are "about a third more apt to report a traffic ticket or traffic accidents." That prompted gay activist Al Kielwasser to note sarcastically on one of the hundreds of Internet postings about Cameron, "When lesbians and gays aren't busy fighting for special rights, it seems, we're running people down on America's highways."

Bad driving habits remind Cameron of one of his research projects whose outcome surprised him.

"I thought for sure that homosexuals use seatbelts less frequently," he says. "But apparently they don't. Just when you think you have it figured out, something comes along to bugger it up."

But Cameron hasn't always bothered with statistical analyses. He knows they may not have the same impact as his initial, lurid thrusts.

His "educational pamphlet" Child Molestation and Homosexuality features a cover photograph of a young boy being pulled into a men's bathroom; his Murder, Violence and Homosexuality shows a photo of a little girl cowering beneath an arm wielding an ax. And in his Medical Consequences pamphlet, which was credited by several people in the anti-gay movement as a key factor in scaring many people into supporting Amendment 2, Cameron used obituaries from gay newspapers to paint a grim picture: Gays were 116 times more apt to be murdered. The number of murdered lesbians was 512 times higher than that of the general population of white females aged 25-44. (No matter that his critics later pointed out that obituaries from gay newspapers don't necessarily speak for the lives and deaths of gay people in general.) The pamphlet also was rife with references to "unsanitary behavior" and ingesting "fecal material" and referred to kissing as the ominous-sounding "salivary exchange." Ignoring the fact that oral sex is commonly practiced by millions of heterosexuals, including those who presumably took his advice in his book Sexual Gradualism, Cameron notes in Medical Consequences that "semen contains many of the germs carried in the blood. Because of this, gays who practice oral sex verge on consuming raw human blood, with all its medical risks."

In Medical Consequences, Cameron found it an easy leap to go from talk of "urine sex" to a flurry of stats about child molestation, which he listed under "other gay sex practices." Focus on the Family and Colorado for Family Values, which leaned heavily on Cameron's research to try to score points in the Amendment 2 debate, had no problem with that.

But there may be signs that part of the anti-gay movement is starting to pass Cameron by. Focus's heavily retooled version of The Homosexual Agenda, now called The Social Significance of Homosexuality: Questions and Answers, acknowledges the humanity of homosexuals and even says that while "behavior is chosen, sexual attraction is not." The new book, which is part of the liturgy of Focus's nationwide "community impact seminars" and other workshops, still condemns the idea of homosexual marriages and letting homosexuals become teachers or parents. But it also allows that people who practice homosexual behavior still are people--and that some of them are quite talented and worth appreciating. Missing in the retooled version are Cameron's statistics--and even his name.

Focus officials won't be interviewed on the subject, but tapes from a 1994 conference infiltrated by their opponents reveal this tactical shift. The conference, at the Glen Eyrie resort in Colorado Springs, brought together anti-gay activists from around the country, including Paul Cameron. The purpose was clear, according to top Focus official John Eldredge in his address: "Obviously, over the short term, we are trying to roll back the militant gay agenda, wherever and however it manifests itself, whether that be in domestic partnership ordinances or that be in school curriculum issues." But Eldredge then appealed to the group to avoid "the appearance of bigotry, arguing on the grounds of fairness, as opposed to overt appeals to biblical morality in the square...To the extent we can control our public image, we must never appear to be bigoted or mean-spirited." Eldredge argued that the attack must not be made in the name of Christianity but through "empirical science," which is what he said "Americans consider to be the gospel truth."

Cameron, in his address to the group, seemed to be drifting away from this approach, despite the fact that his was the "empirical science" undergirding Focus's anti-gay attack during the early Nineties. He drew the battle lines as "good versus evil" and warned that "we are in deep doo-doo." He classified homosexuals as non-productive members of society and added that "most people who engage in homosexuality are of the lower strata. These are people who are waiters and busboys and bums and hobos and jailbirds and so forth."

Even if Focus on the Family's tactical approach is diverging from Cameron's, they still work together on such issues as domestic-partner benefits for Denver municipal employees. And they agree that homosexuality continues to pose a threat to Western civilization. "There's a massive cultural shift under way," Cameron says. "And some of that shift has to do with homosexuality. The U.S. and Western civilization may have passed the point of no return. Hope not."

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