lesbian mom shocks panelists at Family Impact Summit

Last weekend marked the ultra-conservative, right-wing Family
Impact Summit in Tampa, Florida. The conference, sponsored by the
Family Research Concil (no surprise there!) amounted to little more
than organized gay-bashing, and aimed to address such issues as,
the “homosexual agenda”, “homosexuality & ministry” and “racial

I recently read a post from a liberal blogger, Jim Burroway, who
attended the conference. The blogger went to a town hall meeting
titled “Defending Marriage: What’s At Stake.” According to the
post, the town hall meeting concluded that LGBTQ people:

  • all are prone to mental illnesses and physical diseases
  • all have been abused as children
  • all are substance abusers
  • don’t really want marriage because we don’t want it to
    interfere with our promiscuity

Once the panelists would up their lie-filled diatribes attacking
LGBTQ individuals and families, the meeting was opened up to
questions from the floor. This is where it got interesting, as Jim
Burroway recounts:

And the second questioner, a brave young woman wearing
a red tee-shirt, was a stunner:

Hi. My names is Cathy James and I would like to challenge all of
the individuals here listening today to really take a look at some
of the rationale and some of the comments that speakers have given
in regard to things such as …why government gets involved with
personal relationships, that is, for the procreation of children. I
think as most of the attorneys will tell you, that civil marriage
was created for one purpose only, and that was property and how to
divide property.
And so I am a lesbian, I live in the Riverview area with my partner
of thirteen years and our son who is seven. And I go to work Monday
through Friday and attend church weekly, I volunteer at the school,
I volunteer at the homeowners association. And what I have a hard
time understanding is why you are interested in keeping a legal
framework from us in being able to handle the same things as
heterosexual couples and such things as visitation, and
hospital…. And how to divide our property in the same way, and
how to parent our child?

The stunned silence was amazing. John Stemberger thanked her for
coming and tried to stammer out an answer. He said that some forms
of discrimination are perfectly legitimate (“home ownership
benefits society in the way renters do not.”) and ended by
saying, “marriage uniquely benefits society in the way same sex
couples do not.” But Cathy remained calm and firm:

But in what way? What’s the difference in the benefit? How does
your marriage benefit society more than my relationship with my
same gender partner does not?

Peter Sprigg jumped in to assert that “without question” the
best family structure was headed by a man and a woman. But Cathy

…But now you’re devaluing, what, over fifty percent of the
children who live with one parent or that one parent as died or
that they’re divorced and now they’re just living with one
parent. You’re devaluing them and that’s not fair.

By now the panel was speechless, leaving Peter Sprigg to stumble
around trying to get his footing. “Each person’s relationship
choices serves as an example to the rest of society… and if that
example becomes more widespread, more people will make the same
choice, more children will suffer.”

So you’re saying a man and a woman in a marriage are valued
higher than single people? They’re valued higher than…
Sprigg cut her off and instead of relying on his own outwitted
wits, he decided to read from David Blankenhorn’s book, The
Future of Marriage. And as he read, his voice rose, becoming more
strident, more angry, more sharp with each word. “I would be rich
if I had a nickel for every time someone who knows almost nothing
about marriage has told me that historically marriage was all about
property. That is nonsense!” But as he continued to spit out the
words, it slowly dawned on him that Blankenhorn was talking about
dowries and gifts to the bride’s family – which had nothing do
with Cathy’s questions.

Clearly Sprigg is a man who doesn’t like having his reputation as
an “expert” challenged. And it became obvious that he wasn’t
up to this particular challenge. But he kept reading, vainly
looking for the rescue that he was sure he’d find in
Blankenhorn’s book. But it wasn’t there. He finally gave up and
Cathy graciously thanked all of the panelists for their time.

For the two and a half days of the summit so-called “experts,”
one after another, paraded from one stage to another convincing
everyone who would listen that homosexuals would be the downfall of
society. The solution? “Ordered Liberty Under God” went the
oft-repeated battle cry.

But one brave woman burst through the bluster and showed that the
emperors had no clothes. It was a wonderful moment, and for me the
greatest highlight of the whole conference.

After circulating this post among the office, our Program &
Education team recognized the name of that brave woman. She’s a
well-known Florida activist and board member of Securing Our Children’s
. And, she’s agreed to write a guest post for our blog
about her experience. Stay tuned!