Tennessee Conservatives Want Halt Marriage Equality To Protect Children From ‘Humiliation’

David-Fowler-Family-Action-Council-of-Tennessee-212x300Earlier this month, the city of Collegedale, Tennessee became the first in the state to offer any sort of benefits to same-sex couples. Despite the fact that same-sex couples have been denied marriage licenses as recently as last week, conservatives in Tennessee are still anxious that their home state will soon join the growing list of states that allow marriage equality.

Among those conservatives is David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, who recently authored an op-ed piece for Focus on the Family's Citizenlink. In his piece, Fowler attempts to shift the burden of proof on to marriage equality advocates. More specifically, he calls for them to respond to two specific concerns of his:

"First, to the extent that same-sex couples want to bring children into their relationship, they must believe the sexual, emotional, and psychological complementariness of the two sexes and the value of that complementariness to children are irrelevant.

"Second, that belief rests upon another belief, namely, that men and women are the same, that there are no distinct characteristics apart from anatomy. If you doubt me, then you haven’t given much thought to what is behind all the gender identity arguments that have arisen since the same-sex marriage debate began…

"So, the first dilemma same-sex marriage advocates face is whether they are willing to come right out and say for all to hear that (i) they believe men and women are interchangeable when it comes to what a child needs and (ii) they believe that because they also believe there are no differences between the sexes."

6a00d8341c730253ef019104a19f05970cWhat Fowler fails to explain, however, is exactly how a parent's ability to compliment their partner is at all tied to their gender. He also fails to pinpoint any specific instance of LGBT rights advocates arguing that men and women are, in fact, interchangeable in any sense. Let's also not forget that researchers have found no significant developmental or psychological difference between children raised by gay parents and children raised by straight parents. Some even suggest that kids of same-sex couples are actually better off in certain categories. Fowler's op-ed conveniently overlooks that data.

Instead, Fowler chose to cherry-pick a word from Supreme Court Chief Justice Anthony Kennedy, claiming that same-sex parents "humiliate" children. Once again, his statements make a key omission, mainly that Justice Kennedy was referring to the humiliation inflicted on families with same-sex parents by opponents of marriage equality

It is not yet known precisely how well-founded Fowler's fears of marriage equality are. At present, the ACLU and other groups have marriage equality lawsuits pending in states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Kentucky. Tennessee does not seem to be lining up at present. That said, perhaps marriage equality advocates in the state could take Fowler's comments as a good sign–since the opposition is already scared. 


  1. Jack M says

    It’s really offensive to me when adults promote prejudice in the name of “saving” children. Totally ignorant.

  2. says

    That statement is such garbage. This, in particular: “Second, that belief rests upon another belief. . . .” No, that belief rests on evidence. I’m sure he must have encountered the concept of evidence at some point in his life, but it doesn’t seem to have stuck.

    As for the “dilemma” gay rights activists face, it doesn’t exist. Sorry, Mr. Fowler, but in this country, if you want to withhold rights from a group, the burden of proof is on you, not them.

  3. Turings Ghost says

    OK, I’ll say it. (1) men and women are interchangeable in what a child needs. This has been proven over and over in multiple peer reviewed journals and endorsed by the American Pediatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers, as well as other respected professional organization. The research data involving thousands of studies clearly indicate that economic status and parenting skills were key factors in a child’s happiness and success — not gender or sexual identity. (2) There are no material differences between the sexes that impact society. Gender equality is now protected under the law under the US Constitution.

    Since economic status is a key component of a child’s success — and Tennessee ranks 45th when compared to other states — a strong argument can be made that people in Tennessee should not procreate for the sake of the children. Other factors support this argument, e.g., instance Tennessee ranks in 40’s in education in the U.S.

    Finally, the Scopes case at the trial level was obviously wrong (yes, I know it was overturned in appeal). Evolution does exist. I offer yourself as living proof of an example of an overly diluted gene pool.

  4. HadenoughBS says

    No, what children need protection from are disgusting homophobes like Fowler and Focus on the Family (a misnomer if ever I heard one). Fowler is an humiliation to humanity like much bigger political fish Putin and Mugabe. It appears he never met a fact or a statement he didn’t twist or take out of context.

    BTW, John Roberts is the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court – not Anthony Kennedy.

  5. Bart says

    There’s a reason Fowler’s piece is in the opinion section is that it has no fact. It’s total conjecture. He offers no fact because like most of these guys, facts prove them wrong. Statistics prove them wrong. So they rely on their “feelings” on things and of course the obvious lies (misquoting Kennedy’s Supreme Court opinion.) When one of these guys can actually come up with something that isn’t a fairy tale, wake us up, otherwise, who cares?

  6. Steve says

    “Complementarianism” is just a slightly softer version of “patriarchy”. It’s all about male dominance and female submission for religious reasons. And of course it’s also code for “penis in vagina”. They are obsessed with genitals and their version of marriage should be called “genital based marriage”

  7. Hey Darlin' says

    Those poor IMAGINARY children, now they are being humiliated. It’s getting really difficult to be imaginary these days, there are untold numbers of scenarios you become involved in, no telling where imaginary life will lead you.

    I’m certainly glad I live in the REAL world and focus on REAL issues like marriage equality and the BENEFITS it will bring to numerous very REAL children. David Fowler has shown himself not only to be poorly educated, but also an embarassment.

    As far as any facts go, the fringe groups such as Family Action Council of Tennessee who wish to diminish the lives of others, including children, will always have to work with conjecture and hypocrisy in order to issue their polluted message.

    None of these goups ever mention their disdain for single mothers or fathers who raise perfectly wonderful children without a spouse at all. Or mothers who lost their husbands serving in the war or to illness. Or children of divorce who never saw the other parent afterwards. What about fathers who’s wife died in childbirth. After all, why spend your time showing the nation that your organization humiliates very REAL children when some IMAGINARY ones with only one IMAGINARY problem, that you can dream up, will do just fine.

  8. terry says

    Having people like Fowler in Tennessee humiliates everyone in the state. The South is a national joke on social issues because of guys like this.

  9. Hey Darlin' says

    Wouldn’t you think organizations who strive to issue humiliation to others based on the way they were born, and deny them human rights based on their judgement alone, wouldn’t have much of a case in quantifying humiliation when they thought they saw it?

  10. jamal49 says

    It is INFURIATING that that evangelical slime-bag, David Fowler, takes one word (“humiliate”) from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion and deviously uses it to promote his pathetic, homophobic screed against marriage equality as well as slander same-sex couples who are raising children.

    This is what evangelicals do, especially with that foul, fetid book of myths they have used and continue to use to make their increasingly-irrelevant arguments against marriage and civil equality for LGBT people. I have lost all patience with that scum. The only good evangelical is a not-living evangelical.

  11. says

    i’m extremely confused: what does all of this have to do with marriage? this seems more like a “let’s find a way to ban gay people from having their own biological children” argument.

    marriage isn’t needed for procreation. Just ask Sarah Palin, grandmother to two adorably-illegitimate *bastard* grandkids 😀 (her non-liberal, non-progressive terms. not mine)

    protecting what kids from what now? the only thing humiliating children of gay people are children of anti-gay people, like Sen. Tim Flake’s racist, homophobic, gun-loving sociopath of a son.

  12. DavidR says

    And not to mention that most kids don’t grow up in a vacuum. They have male, female, and perhaps trans caregivers, teachers, etc.