When the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners held initial discussion on extending domestic partner benefits, Republican Commissioner Karen Bentley suggested to county human resources staff a white paper on the potential costs of the benefits. Although the resource, entitled “The Hidden Costs of Domestic Partner Benefits,” has ties to a questionable, anti-LGBT organization and contains outdated information, it was nonetheless included in an 80-page human resources department report presented to Mecklenburg commissioners on Dec. 15.
The paper, written by Michael Hamrick, is a publication of the Corporate Resource Council, an organization run by and funded by the Alliance Defense Fund. Based in Arizona, the Alliance Defense Fund is a legal organization responsible for challenges to LGBT-inclusive laws and policies across the nation. Some have claimed the CRC is a “front group” of the Alliance and it has been identified as a “non-profit consulting firm” affiliated with the legal group.
CRC corporate filings with the Arizona Secretary of State office show the CRC shares the same physical address as the Alliance. One of CRC’s board members is the CEO of the legal organization.
In Hamrick’s white paper, the CRC claims gay sex is unhealthy and that employers offering domestic partner benefits to LGBT people will experience extra cost because of high HIV/AIDS rates.
“Advocates of domestic partner plans claim that employers with domestic partner benefits have not experienced an increase of cost because of HIV/AIDS,” the paper reads. “However, the numbers of HIV infections and AIDS cases consistently reveal that HIV/AIDS affects gay men disproportionately. In fact, one observer estimates that ‘the incidence of AIDS among 20- to 30-year-old homosexual men is roughly 430 times greater than among the heterosexual population at large.’”
The CRC’s “observer” is Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, a regular pundit for the “ex-gay” movement who has said Prozac could cure homosexuality and whose controversial works have been used by anti-LGBT organizations as proof sexual orientation is a changeable, non-innate characteristic. The cited HIV/AIDS statistic in the CRC white paper comes from Satinover’s 1996 book, “Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth.” The book is cited as a resource by the so-called National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuals, a religious anti-LGBT and “ex-gay” organization.
NARTH has been associated with several controversial individuals, including Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively who says gays masterminded the Nazi genocide of European Jews. Lively is the U.S. envoy for the international group Watchman on the Walls, a hate group under watch by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, hate-based violent crime and murder domestically and internationally.
The claims in “Hidden Costs” that gays are more unhealthy than heterosexuals are partly based on CRC’s “The Health Risks of Gay Sex,” by John R. Diggs. In the secondary white paper, Diggs uses a total of 100 sources primarily consisting of studies, surveys, other medical data as well as press releases, medical journal articles and newspaper clippings. Of those 100 sources, 51 are at least a decade old. Of those, 33 were published in the 1990s (some of the early 1990s studies documenting data from the 1980s), 14 were published in the 1980s and 4 were published in the 1970s. In addition, Diggs uses as an additional source a 1935 speech given to the Medical Section of the British Psychological Society.
Similarly, “Hidden Costs” author Hamrick cites 20 sources of which nine — almost half — are more than a decade old. Of those nine, six were published in the 1990s and three in the 1980s. One of Hamrick’s cited sources is a “private morbidity study” conducted in the 1990s, for which there cannot be any independent evaluation or substantiation of the facts or figures because of his incomplete citation.
Hamrick also cites a book co-written by Maggie Gallagher, of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). NOM has been the leading proponent of anti-gay marriage amendments in recent years.
Other concerning biased, misleading or unethical content in Diggs’ “Health Risks” include:
• Diggs’ claim that gays are more likely to have “gay bowel syndrome,” an obsolete medical term for which the author’s two cited sources date from 1976 and 1983.
• Diggs’ citation of a 2001 Canadian study — which he uses to claim gays have shorter lifespans — whose six original researchers have gone on record saying the work was misused and distorted.
• Diggs’ misleading and unethical use of several convenience sample studies — such as those conducted in STD clinics — which he claims are representative of the gay population at large.
Q-Notes contacted Commissioner Karen Bentley regarding these issues. She had yet to return our request by press time.