The term “homosexual agenda,” is a trope commonly used by social conservatives, particularly those from religious constituencies in referring to efforts by gay people who want tolerance, if not acceptance for who they are, their relationships and families. The term was invented by the Family Research Council in 1992, an Evangelical Protestant group and lobbying organization established in the United States in 1981 by James Dobson. Interestingly, Dobson is a licensed psychologist in the state of California. He has academic credentials, a doctorate in child development from the University of Southern California and held the position of Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine 14 years. In addition, he served for 17 years on the staff of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles in the Division of Child Development and Medical Genetics. Dobson is intelligent, but remains a minor figure in academic circles. He is better known for his business acumen and influence as a conservative lobbyist.
Prior to the Family Research Council he founded Focus on the Family in 1977, also an Evangelical Protestant group and lobbying organization. Dobson is a controversial figure, to say the least, a moral entrepreneur in the truest sense of the term. The term moral entrepreneur was coined by a sociologist, Howard S. Becker in 1963 in his book Outsiders: studies in the sociology of deviance. The moral entrepreneur, Becker argued,
generally express the conviction that some kind of threatening social evil exists that must be combated. They can be seen as moral crusaders, who are concerned chiefly with the successful persuasion of others, but are not concerned with the means by which this persuasion is achieved.
The first time I heard the term “homosexual agenda” used was many years ago by an announcer on a religious talk radio show at a friend’s family home. His parents are Pentecostals. It was one of those moments in my life whereupon hearing something so bizarre it left me scratching my head and asking “what is he talking about?” It also left me feeling very uncomfortable as, judging by the tone the announcer was using, it did not sound very positive. For Dobson, the homosexual agenda is ‘a threatening social evil that must be combated.’ Dobson defines it as follows:
universal acceptance of the gay lifestyle, discrediting of scriptures that condemn homosexuality, muzzling of the clergy and Christian media, granting of special privileges and rights in the law, overturning laws prohibiting pedophilia, indoctrinating children and future generations through public education, and securing all the legal benefits of marriage for any two or more people who claim to have homosexual tendencies.
As a moral entrepreneur, Dobson was very successful in promoting and selling this crusade to a religious constituency more than happy to buy into it. His sales pitch is blunt. He asserts that “homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed” and it is “by definition unnatural, and as such is associated with negative physical and psychological health effects.” This supports the position of Evangelical Protestant Churches such as the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States with 16 million members. The Southern Baptist Convention condemns homosexuality as sinful and insists it is not a “valid alternative lifestyle.” Similarly, the Assemblies of God, the second largest Pentecostal denomination in the United States with more than 3 million members holds “that homosexual behavior, along with illicit heterosexual behavior, is immoral and comes under the judgment of God.” Dobson, posing with his academic credentials and experience, lends credence to what Southern Baptists, Pentecostals and like minded religious believers believe and allows them added comfort in harbouring their prejudice against gay people.
That there is a sizable segment of the population in the United States that believes in this nefarious conspiracy theory called the “homosexual agenda” is unfortunate. In reality, the only item on the agenda for most gay people is to be treated like any other citizen in having the right to earn a living, find happiness and security in marriage and family life and to get on with living their lives in peace.
Posted by Geoffrey