In an interview in TIME two weeks ago, Laura Schlessinger spoke out about her reactions to many gays' and lesbians' negative response to her. I was fascinated by how she saw her own reflection in the mirror she has held up to the lesbian and gay community for more than a year. She claims that her image has been distorted; ironically, that's the same claim we have been making about what she has done to our image. The distinction, then, must lie in who holds the mirror and at what angle. Here is how I see it:
When Laura and I met last year, I believe that we both were optimistic that we could either change the other's mind or at least find a common ground about her opinions regarding homosexuality. We could not. By now I think most people reading this have had some exposure to the controversy over her use of such terms as "biological error," "dysfunction" and "disorder" to describe lesbians and gays. Here's why such descriptive words bother us so much.
Anytime someone is allowed to defame any category of people, whether by description or depiction, those people can become regarded as less than human. In studies, the objects of such discrimination tend to be viewed as less important as individuals and less deserving of a place in our society. What does it matter if hurt or harm comes to such people, such thinking goes; they're not as important as the rest of us, and consequently less worthy of our regard and concern. This erosion of mutual respect is just that: a mutual loss for us all.
Laura plays fast and loose with pseudoclinical rhetoric and nonempirical statistics (mostly from political rather than credible medical sources) to portray lesbians and gays as, well, "biological errors." The fact that she is not medically qualified to make such claims is dodged by her "deeply felt religious perspectives." She not only seems unable to choose whether to espouse science or faith but also mixes an indefensible concoction of both and passes it off as truth.
It is this hubris, advocating her opinion as truth, that is too much. When she states that "some people just don't want to hear the truth," she can't be referring to lesbians and gays. Scientific truth is on our side. She must mean faith. If so, that is her business (increasingly, literally!). But to incorporate her academic title into her program's name implies that she has some medical qualification to dispense guidance on sexual orientation. This is misleading and dangerous to an unsuspecting and trusting audience.
When parents of a gay child hear the words "error" and "deviant" in the same sentence as "gay," it's easy for me as a mother to imagine what conclusions they draw.
If Laura has "cried more at times than I would like to admit" in response to lesbians' and gays' speaking out against her, she has nothing on the misery she has caused us with her virulent and prejudicial denouncements. For a woman who claims to be all about the family, has she considered how many families with lesbian and gay members she has torn apart with her destructive words?
Laura can dry her eyes anytime she wants, just by telling the truth.