SF Chronicle Cites Hate Group Leader Sans Background

Without making any note of his background, or that in the 80’s he said that “extermination of homosexuals” might be a necessary remedy for the AIDS crisis, the San Francisco Chronicle quoted Family Research Institute Director Paul Cameron in an article about gays being asked to adopt foster children.

Stewart_4San Francisco’s Family and Children Services is set to begin a billboard/ad campaign (below, right) in an effort to recruit more same-sex couples to adopt and care for foster children, realizing what effective parents they can be: “In San Francisco, gay men and lesbians already adopt a large share of the foster children who are not adopted by relatives — 88 percent since last July, for example, according to Dan Kelly with the Human Services Department.”

AdoptionsfApparently attempting to present an “alternative” perspective, reporter Ilene Lelchuk dredges up the Focus on the Family position, without any qualifiers:

Reports Lelchuk: “Focus on the Family’s objection to same-sex parents is grounded in interpretation of biblical scripture and research by Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute in Colorado. Cameron says gays and lesbians are unfit parents, are more likely to molest children of their same sex, switch partners frequently, have shorter life expectancies and cause their children embarrassment and social difficulties. ‘Any child that can be adopted into a married-mother-and-father family, that’s the gold standard,’ Cameron said. ‘An orphanage would be the second choice, and then a single woman.'”

CameronAccording to AmericaBlog, “[Cameron] was kicked out of the American Psychological Association, and was publicly rebuked by the Nebraska Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association. And he has been called the leader of a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, America’s number one civil rights organization for tracking the klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.”

Lelchuk declined to note that Cameron’s “research” has been debunked numerous times, but appears to present him as a legitimate expert on the issue. Read more here.

Presenting this without any qualifiers is an affront to same-sex couples, like the Stewart-Whites of San Francisco, who have committed themselves to adopting and raising foster children in need.

AmericaBlog notes: “a sloppy, offensive, and dangerous gaffe”.

SF Chronicle quotes known hate group as legitimate expert claiming gays molest kids [americablog]
S.F.’s same-sex couples asked to adopt foster kids [sf chronicle]

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The Stewart-Whites of SF: Real Family Values [tr]


  1. Frank L says

    The Chronicle is more and more of a trash rag every day, its reporting on most topics is abysmal, and unfortunately, since it’s about to lay off 25% of its reporting staff, the trend will only continue. The sad thing is that the other Bay Area newspapers are even worse (if you move here expecting to see coverage of gay news and issues in the local press, dream on), since 99% of them are owned by the same company, MediaNews Group.

  2. Brian says

    Looks like she just cut and pasted a quotation from another article without checking her source. Any cursory Google search would have revealed mountains of information about this bat-shit crazy freak.

    Plagiarism AND sloppy reporting. Nice.

  3. Luke says

    I tire of these dysfunctional creeps who use “science’ to push their agenda of bigotry. I’m also shocked that the Chron screwed up big time , but, it should still be about the kids, not some nut case and his sick agenda, or the incompetent reporter.

    If a couple, gay, straight, or a single person gay or straight wants to adopt a child languishing in foster home’s, and they pass the test, or whatever it takes, they should be allowed to do so.

    Why is it that the child has to suffer for the foolishness and intolerance of some in society? This is a huge issue for me with the abortion foes as well, they will “respect’ the unborn, but, won’t give a second thought to the kid who are here and suffering, more hypocrisy with that sick obsession with gay life.

  4. Hermesdc says

    I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, although perhaps a large one. In part it’s because the quote is taken without it’s full context. Here’s the paragraph from the Chronicle that immediately precedes the one you quote Andy:

    The campaign, which will include a billboard in the Castro featuring two dads with their teen daughter, is perhaps the first of its kind and sure to be controversial. It comes just two weeks after the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family began its drive to recruit more Christians as adoptive parents, partly — the group said — to keep foster children out of homosexual hands.

    I think the larger context helps. Focus on the Family is clearly identified as an advocacy group with an evangelical Christian agenda and the expressed intention of keeping “foster children out of homosexual hands.” The direct organizational affiliation to the Family Research Institute could have been made clearer lest anyone think Cameron is an independent and unbiased researcher, but I think the Chronicle writer’s larger message is clear: that these are advocates not nonpartisans and she’s explaining their role in the story NOT citing them as authorities.

    Vigilance for fairness in the treatment of our issues is vitaly important, but this strikes me as nearly a non-issue.

  5. Leland says

    When it struck you as as “nearly a non-issue” it must have knocked all the common sense out of you, Hermesdc! You give waaaaaaay too much credit to the average reader. In the absence of a line such as, “Other studies dispute Cameron’s claims,” “research” alone equates in the average reader’s mind with “proven fact.” Even had the pseudo reporter done that, as stated, it was irresponsible of her to quote someone so discredited in the first place.

    As for the quality of Bay Area newspapers generally, I agree that they have significantly gone downhill but so have newspapers generally [see earlier discussions of the “liberal” NY Times and Washington Post being eager butt monkies for Bush on the road to Iraq]. But I strongly disagree re gay coverage in the SF Chron and even-further-fallen Examiner. You will still see more gay issue coverage in these two papers than in any other newspaper in the US. Not all of it ideal, as seen here, but overall credit is due.

  6. Steve - Geneva, IL says

    Besides the obvious BS about gay parents, I wonder how much research he did to come to the conclusion that an orphanage is better than a single parent, or that a single mother is better than a single father. Single people (gay or straight) should take note. Focus on Family and the like don’t value your family either. Why do you think they say that the parent-child relationship is sacred yet advocated to take Elian Gonzales away from his father? Why do you think they advocated to end what they called the “marriage tax penalty”? Compare the taxes of two families of 4 with the exact same income. A family headed by a single parent (1 adult, 3 kids, and a family headed by a married couple (2 adults, 2 kids). The single parent family pays thousands of dollars more a year despite the fact that many tax benefits are supposedly for the sake of children. Thanks repblicans and pro family guys!

  7. Josh says

    I’m going to take an unpopular stance.

    She stated a fact:

    “Focus on the Family’s objection to same-sex parents is grounded in interpretation of biblical scripture and research by Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute in Colorado.”

    That is not an endorsement of his views. He is a director of the Family Research Institute. It’s up to the reader to make a critical judgment of his statements, which are obviously crazy.

    In fact, it would be wrong of her to comment on the possible validity of his stance. Each of us is entitled to our opinions in a free society. You are entitled to believe that God disapproves of “homosexuals” as parents.

    It’s not an editorial and the journalist is under no obligation to comment on Cameron’s credentials. It would then be necessary to disclose the credentials of every “expert”.

    It is up to the reader to use critical thinking to form an opinion. There was no journalistic lapse as we had enough facts to make up our own minds.

    Just my view…

  8. Timothy Kincaid says

    Her bigger error is that she reported something false.

    Focus on the Family does not rely on Paul Cameron as a source. In fact, for years Focus has avoided Cameron and will not quote him or repeat his claims.

    Don’t get me wrong, Focus on the Family does great evil to gay people and Paul Cameron is a liar extrodinairre. But she should not have linked the two together falsely.

  9. Leland says

    Is GLAAD getting less SAAD? From an e-mail that GLAAD head Neil Giuliano has sent to several people: “We just got off the phone with the reporter and the paper will be printing a clarification tomorrow re: Cameron’s background related to the topic. We are also going to work on a follow up story on this with accurate
    voices/commentary.” Hooray! Now how about stopping whoring for Coors?

    Timothy: Cameron’s so-called “research” is false. That’s the worst part of the article not that she aligned him with FOF. As for you, Josh, you can take your “unpopular stance” and shove it up your unpopular ass. What you’ve written is nonsense.

  10. Zeke says

    JOSH, sorry but that’s just a load of crap.

    Journalist DO have a responsibility to use credible sources or to at least make it known when their source has such an OFFICIAL record of MALPRACTICE, and outright nuttery, as Cameron.

    Would you not think that a reporter would have a responsibility to report that one of his sources for a report on crime as it relates to race, was a grand wizard of the KKK who had been disbarred by the APA and AMA and whose “research” on race was NOT peer reviewed and had been routinely debunked by virtually every professional association in America? Or do you think it’s up to the readerd to do research to find this out for themselves?

    Go to http://www.americablog.com/2007/05/sf-chronicle-quotes-known-hate-group-as.html and read the whole story, you might change your mind about the journalist’s professionalism.

    HERMESDC, ditto.

  11. Josh says

    Well, Leland, that’s intelligent discourse. Always open to differing opinions, I see? Clearly, Ann Coulter does not have a monopoly on shouting down the views of others.

    According to a “Rolling Stone” article from 1999, used on a PFLAG website to illustrate anti-gay hate groups:

    “One thing that Phelps has in common with the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition and ex gay ministries like Exodus is that they all refer to the work of Dr. Paul Cameron, founder of the Family Research Institute and ISIS, the institute for the Scientific Investigation of Sexuality. Cameron, 59, a former psychologist based in Colorado Springs, issues a stream of data often used by anti-gay activists: that gays are far more likely than straights to molest children, that gays are more likely to commit crimes as mundane as tax evasion or shoplifting, and so on.”

    The Family Research Council was originally part of Focus on the Family before it was spun off.

    To say that the views of Focus on the Family are “grounded” (or rooted) in Cameron’s views is not a misstatement.

    You are angry because the newspaper didn’t reveal Cameron’s credentials or lack thereof. But the reporter’s statements are accurate. Perhaps she should have added “widely-discredited” to her statement but any intelligent reader would see the “interpretation of biblical scripture” and get an idea of the general gist of things.

    As for your assertion that some readers aren’t smart enough to understand these things, why don’t we suppress their right to vote and install an oligarchy which agrees completely with our views? So much simpler overall.

    I wonder if you would express such rage if the views of a discredited left-wing “researcher” furthered a point with which you agreed.

    So shout down all the opinions you want, but please do the shoving yourself. The inability to argue a point without resorting to personal insult says far more about a person’s confidence in his or her views than you might think.

  12. elvis says

    One of the problems here is the faulty premise of media impartiality by presenting two opposing sides of an issue. The republicans have made great strides with making their dissent so far right wing nutso that the middle ends up being conservatism lite. Also, I think it should be mandatory for gay people to adopt children and if there are none available, they should be taken away from poor straight families.

  13. Leland says

    Josh, Josh, Josh. You confuse objective “identification” with “personal insult.” Were a “wart hog” capable of speech, he might not appreciate the term for him either, but he’s still a wart hog and you’re still an idiot.

  14. Josh says

    Leland, Leland, Leland. Leave it to you to ignore the salient points, retreating to insult. The mark of a weak mind.

    If you live in Manhattan, I would be happy to meet you for a face-to-face discussion, in front of an audience of our peers, to see if you would be as pithy in real life, away from the safety and anonymity of the internet.

    I debate people like you all day long and I win far more often than I lose. We’ll see if you have the balls to tell me to shove it up my ass in person.

    I’m calling you out.

  15. says

    The reporter made an error, clear and simple. When she decided to use Cameron as a source, she had a responsibility to reveal his history because of how controversial he is in the area of gay rights.

    In essence, it is like citing a racist when talking about African-American inner city violence and omitting his history.

  16. Zeke says

    Here is the San Francisco Chronicle’s statement admitting that they f’d up by presenting Cameron’s “research” without disclosing his background:

    “CLARIFICATION: In an article about San Francisco’s campaign to get more gays and lesbians to adopt foster children – as well as an opposing evangelical campaign to get more Christian families to adopt — the Chronicle quoted Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute.

    The article should have noted that Cameron, who believes gays make unfit parents and self-published dozens of articles he said were based on his research, was expelled from the American Psychological Association in 1983 when he refused to subject his work to peer review. The article also should have reported that his Family Research Institute was named a hate group in 2006 by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

    So I guess the Chronicle DOESN’T agree with JOSH and HERMESDC, that there was nothing wrong with them quoting Cameron without disclosing his “credentials”.

    I guess they don’t agree that it’s up to the reader to research the background of people who are quoted in their reports.

  17. Josh says

    My comments were made after I received a copy of Neil’s email which was distributed on a private network at 3:52 pm. I knew the Chronicle was going to publish an apology/retraction/qualification. I knew that my view would run counter to prevailing thoughts on the subject. I see things differently and that is my right.

    You may well think that I am completely wrong but I’m not alone. Email exchanges with other members of the network referenced above revealed concerns which are similar to mine.

    Leland chose to attack the person instead of the ideas. I have been party to very little civilized debate with senior GLBT leaders where anyone is allowed to behave like such an ass.

    Why should the standard be different here?

  18. Matt L. says

    Mr. Andy:

    I hope that you are in fact contacting the reporter and editor for a couple of reasons: 1) I know a number of well-intending good heterosexual types who, when this topic of conversation comes up, will keep reiterrating “well, it’s better than no family or no home”… And no matter how many times I insist to them that gay and lesbian parents are just as good as heteros, as proven by many, many long-term well-being studies…. I guess the point I should grasp is that no matter how many legitimate studies are conducted or recognized by the API or APA, the other side will be given some weird false play of legitimacy. (2) Everytime a newspaper that has a shred of credibility pulls one of these moves, and stands uncorrected (say, w/out running some kind of retraction) it simply reinforces the old myths and mistakes. (3) Getting some kind of response from the editor and reporter would be interesting for towleroad readers.

  19. Zeke says

    JOSH, you are clearly on an intellectual and intelligence level that is far above the average Towleroad reader. You’ve made that abundantly clear over and over now. We could never hope to look at any issue with the high standard of consideration that you demonstrate. I was especially impressed with your rhetorical tactic of changing the focus of the discussion to avoid admitting that your original comment was off base. Even the SF Chronicle itself didn’t try that one. They just admitted that were wrong. Tony Snow could take lessons from you.

    Slumming with the simpletons here at Towleroad will just frustrate you. You should just stick to those other sites that you talked about where people discuss things on your level. Your high standards just won’t be appreciated here.

    We’re hopeless, but thanks for trying.

  20. Josh says

    Thanks, Zeke. We should really employ withering sarcasm to advance our goals. That’ll show ’em.

    I stand by my views, whether you like them or not.

    And if shouting people down and resorting to bitchy mockery is the preferred mode of discourse, then you’re right. There is no place for me here.

    From your own comment: “I’m a spiritual (some would say religious) person.” I suppose your spiritual practice extends to mean-spiritedness.

    I am sure that will help you to change the world.

    “Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own”–Jonathan Swift

  21. Hermesdc says

    This is actually a very interesting discussion though personally I could do without the vituperation and sarcasm directed at Josh and, indirectly at me since I largely agree with Josh.

    I’ve thought carefully about all the criticism of my position that this is all making a mountain out of a molehill,a nd I respect it all. I think the most salient criticism is that I put too much stock in the average reader’s ability to take that they read in print and see referred to as “research” as gospel truth. Fair enough. I guess I was unduly influenced by the sheer idiocy of Cameron’s thinking as briefly described by the reporter.

    All that said, I do still think that the article–which speaking as a former news editor was an odd one and riddled with problems unrelated to the reference to Cameron–was trying to walk a fine line between reporting and commentary. And mind you, commentary is always fine with everyone when we agree with it or regret its absence (as in this story) and it’s altogether another when we disagree with it, a la virtually anything that appears in the Wall Street Journal if you’re not of its purportedly free-market, libertarian sensitivities.

    At the end of the day, I think reporter could have covered herself with the insertion of a couple of well-thought and placed words like “highly controversial” research conducted by Paul Cameron . . . “whose conclusions are widely discredited by mainstream researchers.” Since she didn’t, The Chronicle was right to publish the clarification.

    Finally, if you’ll indulge me one more thought, this whole business points to the myth that is journalistic objectivity. No one is wholly objective, certainly not reporters and editors–though they clai to be and do try sometimes. People would be much better off if they understood that no source has a monopoly on truth. Only their respective versions or uderstandings of the truth.

  22. Zeke says

    JOSH, wow, what a classic example of accusing a person of doing something AT THE VERY SAME TIME that one is doing it himself. Heaping sarcasm and mean-spiritedness into a complaint about another person’s sarcasm and perceived mean-spiritedness.

    “Thanks, Zeke. We should really employ withering sarcasm to advance our goals. That’ll show ’em.” — Josh

    “From your own comment: “I’m a spiritual (some would say religious) person.” I suppose your spiritual practice extends to mean-spiritedness.

    I am sure that will help you to change the world.” —- Josh

    Absolutely NO Sarcasm or mean-spiritedness there at all.


    Hypocrisy much?

    For the record, I was sarcastic but I certainly wasn’t mean spirited. I don’t, and never have, supported the ad hominem attacks by my friend Leland. That includes the ones he made here. I often agree with his opinion on a given topic while disagreeing completely with his delivery style. He will be the first to tell you so.

    HERMESDC, thank you for your thoughtful response to the criticisms of the article and your comment. And no, I am not being sarcastic. Unlike JOSH, you are able to consider the possibility that your original comment failed to fully consider some of the criticisms being raised. I appreciate your acknowledging the fact that the reporter failed to meet basic journalistic standards as they pertain to citing sources.

    Not acknowledging this fact, or in Josh’s case, claiming that it wasn’t the responsibility of a jounalist to disclose relevant information about her source, was the ONLY thing that I took issue with in your and Josh’s comment.

    Later, I took exception with JOSH’s patronizing and condescending tone that he directed at people other than Leland. I understood why he resorted to that with Leland (fire fighting fire) but it didn’t excuse talking down to others as if they were too stupid to understand the hidden disclosures in the article. It was then, and only then, that I resorted to sarcasm.

  23. Zeke says

    Perhaps a little disclosure of my own is in order here.

    I am a gay full time father who has had to put up with people reciting the “research” of Cameron to myself AND TO MY KID, for years. Contrary to JOSH’S claim, the average American doesn’t seem to realize that this man is a homophobic religious quack. When a journalist quotes this man as a source without disclosing his background and the fact that he his quack “research” got him thrown out of the APA, and then someone here comes to the defense of the jounalist by claiming that the reader should know these things, forgive me if I take it personally and react passionately.

    Anyone who has had their child come home from school crying because someone told him that his dad was a covert child molestor who was going to die young and abandon him, probably knows how personally Cameron’s “research” can affect them.

  24. Tabitha says

    “…the Southern Poverty Law Center, America’s number one civil rights organization for tracking the klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.”

    This is hardly an accurate portrayal of the SPLC. In fact, the SPLC is somewhat of a joke that exists purely to drum up stories of hatred.

    Paul Cameron, director of the Family Research Institute in Colorado is however a complete idiot and an embarassement to humanity. IMHO any group that has “family” in the title is most likely wrong, and also likely to attempt brainwashing, i.e. “Focus on the Family” and other groups.

    As for journalistic ethics? As a journalist let me say that there are always unknown factors about sources. A proper editor should have asked, or checked up on this source. It’s often difficult to know these things, and I’m sure it’s not a mistake that was made intentionally or will be made again.