A Voice for Men likes to present itself as a voice for gay men as well as straight ones. In a recent post, site founder and chief fulminator Paul Elam declared that
We regard men as human beings, regardless of their sexuality. And most of us feel that this is the salve that heals what has in recent history been inflicted on gay men.
No mention of lesbians, but of course they’re women, and Elam does not seem to like women very much.
AVFM managing editor Dean Esmay, meanwhile, likes to present himself as a champion not only of gay men but of lesbians as well, boasting in one recent tweet that “I have been lesbian-supporting since the ’80s.”
So why is AVFM giving a platform to one of Canada’s most influential opponents of same-sex marriage — and gay and lesbian rights in general?
Canadian Senator Anne Cools, one of the scheduled speakers at AVFM’s upcoming “Men’s Issues” conference in Detroit, has been a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage for decades.
Her objection? That only heterosexual marriage deserves legal protection because gay people can’t make babies – at least not with each other – thus making their interest in sex all about lust.
In a speech before the Canadian senate, she argued that
The public interest in marriage is reproduction, the continuation of the species, the offspring. There is no public interest in sex or the gratification of sexual impulses for their own sake. …
[L]ust, like all human passions, is not to be trusted. Lust and sex on their own have no public character and contain no public interest or public good. Marriage is about man and woman in a peculiar act of bringing forth offspring.
Never mind that plenty of stright couples don’t, or can’t, have kids. Or that some trans men can.
She’s not simply an opponent of same-sex marriage. Cools has consistently opposed other legislation designed to afford gays and lesbians the same basic rights as straight people — and the same legal protections as other victims of bigotry and discrimination.
She opposed adding “sexual orientation” to hate speech legislation, warning that doing so would expose “millions of Canadians…who hold moral opinions about sexuality, to criminal prosecution.” (Needless to say, the passage of the bill in question did not lead to millions of Canadians being rounded up and arrested.)
She also worried that adding “sexual orientation” to hate speech legislation would somehow – I don’t quite understand the logic – encourage the “depathologizing the paraphilias” and ultimately lead to children being “seduced” into dangerous sexual activities. Here’s her argument:
The fact of the matter is, honourable senators, that we discourage children from smoking cigarettes because tobacco is harmful. I would submit that we are talking about some sexual activities that are dangerous and life-threatening. The committee should have the moral courage to hear something of it. I have lost a lot of beloved friends to a variety of these conditions. I have made it my business to instruct myself. That is the first question. You can think about that.
Ms. Landolt, your concern that the term “sexual orientation” is so wide as to involve a wide range of sexual behaviours is well founded. I would like to put on the record here for this committee a document called the Journal of Homosexuality, particularly, volume 20 in 1990. The subject of the entire volume is pedophilia and male intergenerational intimacy, historical, social, psychological and legal perspectives. If you were to open up this text, the foreword is the debate on pedophilia, and the second article is “Man-Boy Relationships: Different Concepts for a Diversity of Phenomena.” It continues with “Pederasty Among Primitives and Institutionalized Initiation.”
I want to know about these children out there and the impact that this is having on them, and, in addition to that, all of these children who are being seduced at youthful ages and who are discovering what is happening to them two or three years later. I have done a lot of counselling. I would like to get a greater picture of the problems out there for children on these grounds, because this sexual orientation debate is going on here as though children do not exist.
She also tried to raise the question of “the medical consequences to individuals who involve themselves in activities such as ‘rimming,’ … sado-masochism and so on.”
In explaining her opposition to adding sexual orientation ito the Canadian Human Rights Act, she offered a similar “slippery slope” argument:
The concern is that pederasts and paedophiles will advance claims to engage in adult/child sexual relationships as a matter of human rights; that claims will be advanced on the legal grounds that pederasty and paedophilia are sexual orientations having entitlements.
For more on her various backwards views, as well as the source of that last quote, see here.
On Twitter, I asked Esmay to explain why AVFM is providing a platform for a woman who opposes same-sex marriage. He hasn’t replied.
Another curious Twitterer asked the same question of Janet Bloomfield, the official spokeswoman for the upcoming AVFM conference. She handled the question with her usual (lack of) aplomb.
Apparently AVFM’s much vaunted “compassion for men and boys” doesn’t apply to gay men who want the same basic rights as straight men.
For more on AVFM’s tolerance of homophobia – and Elam’s notorious attack on one trans women, see here.
EDIT: After I put this post up, I decided to see if I might have better luck at getting answers from Bloomfield on Twitter. The conversation went about as well as could be expected. Remember, Bloomfield is AVFM’s offical “social media” spokeswoman for the conference.
I didn’t see her comment about harassment until after I tweeted a couple more times.
Some more bang-up public relations work from Ms. Bloomfield here.