Selective outrage over Westboro Baptist Church

by CynthiaYockey on April 1, 2010

There’s something missing in all the coverage this week about the Appeals Court of the Fourth Circuit ordering the father of a Marine who died in Iraq to pay $16,000 in court costs to the Westboro Baptist Church as he battles the church for conducting protests and picketing during the funerals of fallen soldiers.

People seem just to be angry that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church are hurting the feelings of grieving families who are mourning the loss of a family member who has given the last full measure of devotion to America, land that they love.

I also find the Westboro Baptist Church’s protests outrageous — all of them, really, since their founder, Democrat Fred Phelps, has an extraordinarily comprehensive list of hatreds: gays, women, Catholics, every Christian who is not a member of his church, Jews, Hindus, Swedes, the Irish and India. He has, however, fought and won many cases of discrimination against black people. So there’s that.

Here’s the thing: no one I listened to yesterday seemed to object to the hatred of homosexuals by Fred Phelps and the members of the Westboro Baptist Church. Hatred of lesbians and gays is Phelps’s primary hatred — WBC’s primary URL is God hates fags dot com (the link goes to their protest calendar).

Left and Right, it is safe to hate homosexuals.

Conservatives don’t seem to mind that the Westboro Baptist Church members hate lesbians and gays. The problem was NOT the hatred. The problem was the LOCATION of the hatred: military funerals. The Westboro Baptist Church also makes a point of protesting everywhere there’s a production of “The Laramie Project,” but as near as I can tell, the conservative blogosphere has concluded Matthew Shepard was not killed because he was gay — so those protests are acceptable.

(Pro-family conservatives also said nary a peep of protest when Randall Terry threw out his gay teen-aged son and Alan Keyes tossed away his lesbian teen-aged daughter.)

This is how homosexuals get the idea that conservatives/Tea Partiers hate them.

I don’t think the discussion of equality for homosexuals should be conducted in terms of objecting to hatreds — I don’t care how you FEEL about my equality, I just care what you DO about my having it. (And I believe that religious freedom CAN co-exist with homosexual equality, despite what Chai Feldblum, Obama’s new EEOC chief, says.)

But I remain very disturbed that the core hatred the Westboro Baptist Church members use to justify their actions and their faith is so faintly damned by conservatives. I know conservatives are amazed and outraged that Leftists and homosexuals consider the Westboro Baptist Church to be the demon face, heart and soul of conservatism. I had to become a fiscal conservative to learn that this perception is unfair and wrong. But it will continue until social conservatives resoundingly repudiate the Westboro Baptist Church’s core hatred to such a degree that it stops being the safest hatred in the world to have.


The soldier at the heart of the case in the news this week, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, died in Iraq in a helicopter crash on March 3, 2006. Funerals for fallen soldiers at military cemeteries received federal protection from protests thanks to the Respect for Fallen Heroes Act, which was signed into law on May 29, 2006. Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank cast one of the few votes opposing it on the grounds that freedom of speech should prevail even if the speech is hateful.

Motorcyclists also formed a volunteer group called the Patriot Guard Riders to escort military funerals and provide a screen of American flags so the mourners do not have to see the hateful signs of the Westboro Baptist Church protesters. They also rev their motorcycle engines to drown out the church members’ singing and chants.

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PRM April 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I don’t think the central tenets of the WBC are being ignored. I think rather that the blogosphere is focusing on the fact that while conservatives must support free speech, we really rely on individuals and organizations to practice consideration in when and where they practice that free speech. Something the WBC obviously has no clue about.
I appreciate your post because I had no idea about their protests at the productions of “The Laramie Project”. Thanks for the heads -up.

I R A Darth Aggie April 1, 2010 at 4:57 pm

It’s still a marginally free country, and you’re still allowed to hate anyone you like. You just can’t turn the hate into criminal action. And so far as I know, despite the lound rhetoric from the WBC, they’ve not crossed that particular line.

I kinda like the notion of letting everyone going to hell in handbaskets of their own making. Theirs is particularly vile, as hate is like an acid that eats away at the one doing the hating. If one is given to praying, they should pray that they allow the G*d profess faith in to change their hearts.

How about this: Westboro Baptist Church: hatemongers since 1955?

David April 1, 2010 at 5:12 pm

I was drawn to your site from Legal Insurrection. Your concept on selective outrage is interesting. I think that most conservatives are not happy with the Baptist due to the fact that they bring their hate into the public. It only makes it worse that the action occurs on hollowed ground. When people hate as much as the Baptist do, you diffuse your argument and repugnance by naming each and every target of their hate. I live in a very conservative town in the South. (Shreveport). I know that several religious groups have a thing about gays. But the community as a whole don’t really care about one’s sexual orientation. The issue did come up with the city funding of an independent movie theater that significantly improves the culture of the city. A local church was against the funding as it allowed gay activities. Yet the community as a whole repudiated the bigotry of the church. This same church hates most everything that the average person finds acceptable. The point is that because a few people, who may have some similar political or cultural veiws, do not make a whole and do not characterize the concept of the community.

As to gay children being turn away, I have a similar situation. My son is homosexual but does not have anything to do with us. The reason is not his sex orientation, it is his life style and irresponsibility. Throw in his deviseness and drug use and you have a situation that we can not tolerate with younger childern around. Yet he would characterize his isolation as our unaccepting attitude to his sex.

Things are much more complicated than black and white, there are multiple shades of grey. Most people, liberal or conservatives do not care about your bedroom activities.

Cynthia Yockey April 1, 2010 at 6:18 pm


I’m always shocked by people who dismiss the quest of equality for homosexuals by saying no one cares what we do in the bedroom. Sexual orientation is fundamental to the being of everyone. But only straight people are not dismissed over what they do in the bedroom. In fact, their sexual orientation provides them with equality and a world of advantages that flow from the support of society that they take for granted.

I would love to hear your son’s side of the story. Why don’t you encourage him to comment as well?


Sugarfoot April 2, 2010 at 1:58 am

Cynthia, I can see your point about the selective outrage but I do not believe that conservatives are at all okay with what these people are saying about gay people. I think we have been focused on the fact that it was a funeral and this group was being so disrespectful and hateful towards the family of this young man. The signs that I saw from the photos said ” Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Thank God for IEDs”. I didn’t see any regarding gays (maybe I missed them?). I would find it as equally appalling if, for instance, it was a young gay man who was killed in a hate crime or something and this group showed up with signs that said “Thank God for Aids” as an example. I think most conservatives would be sickened by this as well.

I am very conflicted on the gay marriage thing.
I know its asking alot, but please be patient with people like me. My reluctance to support same sex marriage has more to do with the fear of the unknown for our society than it has to do with any type of negative feelings towards gay people as a group. I am conflicted because as a conservative I am very pro-liberty and truly believe that all people are equal in the eyes of God and should be treated that way. But my conservate nature also makes me worry about what the breakdown of the traditional family is doing to our society as a whole.

At any rate, you make your point in a very compelling and thoughtful way and I have really appreciated being able to see a different side of the issue.

Cynthia Yockey April 2, 2010 at 11:08 am


Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment.

I came into the conservative blogosphere in January 2009 knowing that I wanted to write a book making the case for same-sex marriage equality. The reaction my readers had when Mark Steyn took my call on the Rush Limbaugh Show on Monday (3/30/10) was so enthusiastic that I realized I have to write the book now and I will be posting about that soon.

But the bottom-line about same-sex marriage equality is that it is going to make society more stable, more virtuous and more prosperous. It also will make government smaller and reduce taxes, I swear. Think of what the dream of marriage does for the lives of people who are allowed to have it. Having that dream makes teenagers work for good grades in high school to get into a good college, to do well in college and choose a profession, to excel in a job or profession, to choose a spouse with qualities that make for lasting relationship, to buy a home together and raise a family and work to make their community a better place. How can it promote stability, virtue and prosperity to tell lesbians and gays they can’t climb that ladder? The state and federal laws that permit marriage also provide the structure for the lives of people who can marry to thrive. The aspirations of lesbians and gays are noble ones: to marry, to adopt, to serve our country in the military honestly and with the same openness that straight people have (and the same duties). That’s the gay agenda. There is nothing to fear from it and everything to gain.


Lori Heine April 2, 2010 at 10:14 am

I can’t help but wonder how a straight man — married to a woman — would react if someone like David were to refer to the most important relationship in his life as his “bedroom activities.”

Oh, but wait a minute! I KNOW what his reaction would be. He would knock David flat on his ass.

Moreover, any bystanders would give him a standing ovation.

I don’t know what “deviseness” might be. Maybe I wouldn’t want it in my house either.

But if there’s drug use, oldest kid in the house or not, I’d like to think at least have enough upstairs as a parent to wonder why the hell my kid was using drugs and not kick him out of the house.

The teen years are very fragile ones. Teenagers (especially boys) are usually portrayed as sex machines, but they are, at that age, trying to figure out EVERYTHING about themselves — not only concerning sex, but also love, and including whether God loves them and whether they have any reason to love themselves.

Whether they do it because their kids are gay or for some other reason, people who chuck their teens out of the house — essentially for having inconvenienced them, whatever reason they may allege — are going to face a God far more wrathful than any they’ve warned their kids about.
.-= Lori Heine´s last blog ..Tea Party in the Cafeteria =-.

Serapia April 2, 2010 at 3:57 pm

I think one issue is that conservatives and libertarians in this country feel so frightened (and perhaps justly so) about potential restrictions to freedom of speech that their default mode is to defend the right of hateful speakers to speak, however horrible the hate.

It’s a tricky message to get out, to say, hey, this man’s hate is immoral and should be deplored by all good-hearted people, without also having people assume you want some sort of hate-speech ban or fairness doctrine. So many people these days are so conditioned to looking to the government for solutions that publicly ridiculing hateful speech can have the unintended consequence of being used as fodder for shutting down our right to speak freely.

That said, Phelp’s hate is wrong and un-Christian, and should be condemned by right-thinking people. Christianity teaches that God loves everybody, even (for those who are convinced that homosexual activity is sinful) sinners. Those who do think homosexual activity is a sin should nonetheless recognize that we are all sinners, all in need of grace and love. And all of us, male, female, gay, straight, and in between, are in God’s image. To hate a person simply for BEING is to hate God’s image.

I’m saddened to hear that about Alan Keyes, though I wonder whether the split had as much to do with her politics as her orientation. I almost don’t want to say this, but I can kinda see his point that paying for her Brown tuition is subsidizing a life of activism diametrically opposed to everything he stands for. Still, family is family and I’m disappointed.

Cynthia Yockey April 2, 2010 at 6:25 pm


You see the point of a man who threw his 18-year-old daughter out on the street and cut her off financially? For a being crime? Not for something she did, but for BEING a lesbian?

Alan Keyes and Randall Terry threw away their children because of the pathological degree of their narcissism. They lack boundaries, so they believe their family members — even their followers — must extol their glory and reflect glory on them. They felt overwhelming shame because they had children who did not reflect glory on them. So they threw those children away. And the social conservative community did not condemn them for behavior intended to force their will on their children, and failing that, to destroy the child. This does not reveal wholesome things about their real feelings about the sanctity of the family, or their ethics.

Besides pathological narcissism, there is another reason that parents throw away their lesbian or gay teenager: they fear their own homosexuality will be revealed by the existence of their child, or they are overwhelmed with rage and envy that the child is asserting a claim to an openly gay life they wish they had had, or both.

But none of the rationales offered for throwing away a child for the being crime of homosexuality spring from goodness, love or wisdom.


Serapia April 2, 2010 at 8:41 pm

No, I didn’t mean to say that I saw the point about Alan Keyes throwing his daugther out of his life. I definitely don’t see the point of that.

But after following the links in your piece, I read that one of the rationales Keyes or his staff gave for cutting off funding for her Brown tuition is that he didn’t want to subsidize the left-wing political activism that she herself said was forming a large part of her Brown experience.

THAT is all I found marginally understandable (if it’s true — it might just be a lame excuse), not wanting to fund the activism of even a close family member when it goes against your life’s work.

I think if I had a child who expressed a desire to use her college experience to aggressively agitate against my whole life’s work, I might have some reservations about footing the bill myself, too. (I’m seeing Keyes’s daughter’s leftist activism not as part of her sexual orientation, or being, but as a choice she made that was likely to aggravate the tensions between herself and her father, a man who is not known for his mild temperament.)

When I said I was disappointed in Alan Keyes for throwing his daughter out, I meant it. (I should’ve used stronger language than disappointment to express my disapproval.) I had lots of friends in college whose parents stopped funding their education for one reason or another but who still didn’t kick their kids out of their life. There’s a big difference between stopping tuition and stopping the family relationship altogether.

Obviously, I didn’t make myself clear in my first comment. But I hope what I just said helps clarify. Tuition stoppage? Whether justified or not, it’s a tool commonly used by parents to influence their children’s vocational choice (a choice not innately tied to orientation). Cutting off familial love, on the other hand? That is deplorable.

I sincerely hope Alan Keyes sees the light and repents of the deplorable breach he has made in his family life.

Cynthia Yockey April 2, 2010 at 10:16 pm


Alan Keyes gave his daughter two weeks to clear out of her apartment and cut her off financially. Her crime was that she spoke in public in Maryland after one of her gay male friends died of starvation after HIS parents kicked him out for being gay. THAT is what Keyes objected to. If his life’s work was to invalidate and disenfranchise lesbians and gays and ensure they remain second-class citizens forever, then her being is what opposed his life’s work. I find all of Keyes’ rationalizations specious, but cynically calculated to offend the prejudices of the Right AGAINST HIS OWN DAUGHTER. (The black Left also is proudly opposed to equality for homosexuals. Black ministers in Maryland vehemently lead demonstrations against gays — no group in Maryland is more active against gay equality.)

Keyes’ daughter campaigned FOR HIM, which is the opposite of Leftist activism. He was not refusing to fund her activism. Keyes refused to fund her EDUCATION. He didn’t offer to pay if she switched schools, or majors. He cut her off completely. He kicked her out of his life.

That’s what narcissistic straight people do to their gay and lesbian children. And the black Left and the social conservative Right’s reaction ranges from silence to applause.


Stinky April 3, 2010 at 9:56 am

I have to disagree with part of your conclusion: thia is what PARENTS do to their kids, regardless of their sexuality, all the time, if the kids do not tow the line on any area of importance to the parent.

I dropped out of med school many moons ago. I was paying for school myself. When I told my folks what I was going to do, my father refused to speak to me for a year, even though we were living in the same house (my mom finally put her foot down about something and insisted that I be allowed to move back home until I got back on my feet). He would have absolutely nothing to do with me, and treated me like I was an absolute disgrace to the family.

Do I think parents should disown their kids because of certain lifestyle choices? No, not because of all of them. Yes, for some choices, like drug abuse (at least until that kid agreed to get help). But I also do NOT believe that a parent owes support or an education to an adult child. The idea that Keye’s owed his adult daughter a college education, as well as supporting her financially? I don’t think so.

As for one of her gay male friends “dying of starvation” because his parents kicked him out? I’m sorry, Cynthia, as tragic as that young man’s death is, it is absolutely ridiculous to correlate the two. This is not Somalia. I was so poor for years after dropping out of med school that I slept in my car, and worked 3 jobs, 16 hours a day, two of them in restaurants so that I could get two meals a day as part of my perks. Was her friend incapable of getting a job at a McDonald’s? Did he not turn to government welfare agencies, church charities, or gay support groups to help him? If not, why not?

To lay his death of STARVATION at the door of his parents is over the top.

Serapia April 3, 2010 at 10:03 am


You may be quite right that Keyes’s rationalizations are specious and cynically calculated to elicit sympathy from the Right. (In my family, being gay wouldn’t be a big deal, but being a left-leaning political agitator would be, so the rationalization that it’s really about politics is one that meshes with our worldview, even if we view the action taken — splitting up the family — as immoral.)

This portion of the Washington Post interview I found in your links is why I got the impression I did:

“As long as I was quiet about being gay or my politics, we got along,” she says. “Then I went to the Counterinaugural,” last month’s protests in Washington against President Bush. “My father didn’t like that.”

Maya returned from the demonstration to find that she had been let go from her job at her father’s political organization.

She says she was told to leave her father’s apartment and not to expect any money toward attending Brown University, where she was admitted but deferred matriculation to spend a year teaching in southern India. “In my father’s view, financing my college would be financing my politics, in a sense,” Maya says, “because I plan to be an activist after college.”

The article also quotes Maya as saying, “I suppose given our vastly divergent political beliefs, it [the split] was inevitable.”

The rationalization that it’s about politics, not orientation, may be specious, but it’s also one that’s plausible in light of readily-available documentation. And it makes it easy for right-leaning people to say to themselves, as I did, “Well, it sounds like it’s about politics, not orientation. (Mary Cheney wasn’t kicked out of her family, after all.) Kicking the kid out isn’t what we would have done, but when a kid announces in a paper of record that she plans to be an activist for liberal causes after college, cutting off tuition would sure be tempting…”

Sorry for going on so long about this. I’m trying to give you a window into how the average conservative family might rationalize news like this. It’s easier to change people’s minds, after all, when you have a window into how they’re already thinking.

Stinky April 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Every conservative that I know DOES mind that the WBC hates gays and lesbians. Not only is it morally wrong, anyone with an ounce of sense in them would realize that if you allow people to be demonized for who and what they are, be it gay, or Jewish, or conservative, opens the door to wider oppression in the future.

In the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:

“THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Stinky April 2, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Oh, and as for the “bedroom activities” : I can assure you that a lot of people I know, gay and straight, are most assuredly interested in what the hell Jesse James and Tiger Woods were thinking, and what they were doing. Just human nature, I guess.

Graumagus April 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Hey, don’t count me in that category. I was quoted in the Western Journal of Communication years ago as saying I wanted to show up at one of their protests in assless chaps driving a truck decked out as being from “Bruce’s Gerbil Farm”.

Ok, so maybe perpetuating a false stereotype isn’t exactly the greatest way to counter these guys, but it would reeeeeeeally piss them off and be amusing as hell. At least for me, that is. Anyone having to claw their eyes out after seeing me in assless chaps would probably disagree….

Phelps and co. are oxygen thieving human sewage who parley their natural ability to offend the hell out of everyone into lawsuits for profit. The entire idea behind their “church” that God punishes all of us for not rounding up homosexuals and burning them alive offends and infuriates me. I have never seen a single group of people who would make pretty much every other human being across the social and political spectrum cheer if they were to be eaten alive by fire ants.

Stinky April 5, 2010 at 9:55 am

I feel like you keep reading things into what I’m saying, that I’m not actually saying.

If you re-read what I wrote, I agreed with you that homosexuality is not a choice. I don’t know how much more clearly I could have written this. My point was to make you more aware of the attitudes out there in the general population, and the fact that the celebrity mill does not help, and gay rights activists are going to have to deal address this if they want to advance their cause. Your comments about people who appear to swing back and forth were very interesting in that regard, and they are ones that I will share with older family members who are genuinely puzzled by this.

Hyperbolic statements do not help. Keyes cut his daughter off financially and denounced her. In my book, that is not doing, as you say, “everything he could to destroy his own daughter.” To me, that would be, oh, an honor killing. Does this make him a tyrant, when combined with his other public viewpoints and behavior? Yes, and I should know, I grew up with one. Parents who are politically conservative are just as screwed up as liberal parents – politically ideology does not immunize them from this.

You say that I keep “denouncing” Maya. I re-read what I wrote, and nowhere did I denounce her or her positions. I just do not paint her as some sort of martyr based on her sexual orientation, when she experienced what thousands of kids do every year for one reason or another. To me, she is not special because she happens to be lesbian, or black, or female. Her suffering, and I have no doubt that she is suffering because of her father’s rejection, does not fall into a special category because she is a lesbian. I think you and I disagree in that regard, but that does not make me a bigot.

No, it is just that I believe that as an adult, Maya has to accept the familial consequences of her actions and beliefs, if those consequences are not criminal or illegal. As we all do. Is it “fair?” No. Just as Alan Keyes has to accept that there are many people who think he is a tyrant with no guts, who should have stood by his daughter. Keyes would never get my vote, unlike Dick Cheney, whose political courage, for me, is cemented by the fact that he stands by his lesbian daughter and her partner, even though it hurts him with some socially conservative voters.

“Parents who are mentally and emotionally healthy see their children through this phase.” A friend of mine is a fantastic personal and family therapist, and a published author. In a 25 year career, she has known fewer than 6 people, among her clients and friends, who had parents like this. They are the exception rather than the rule. So, the reality is that most people have parents who are emotionally and/or mentally unhinged to some degree. Again, this is not “fair,” but it is a reality of life.

FYI, my husband and I agree with you about the education aspect of your response. If you disagree with your kids on some issue, if you can afford it, you should still pay for college.

At any rate, I think these discussions are good. They help me see how others view the same issues, whether I agree with that viewpoint or not. To me, that’s a step in the right direction.

Cynthia Yockey April 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm


I saw that you had two comments that were identical except for the addition of the paragraph starting, “At any rate,” so I deleted the shorter one.

I consider emotionally and financially abandoning an 18-year-old and refusing to pay for her education to be actions intended to destroy that person. I think only considering physical murder to count as sufficiently destructive is wrong. Keyes was in a will battle with his daughter. He attempted soul murder to win. And certainly it was destructive to the rest of Maya’s life to refuse to provide her with a college education. Keyes also knew his daughter is a cutter and in need of care to assure she does not become a danger to herself. There’s a form of murder charge called “reckless disregard for human life.” If Maya commits suicide, Keyes knowingly created the conditions to drive her to it.

Also, when parents throw out a child and justify their actions on the grounds that the child is gay or lesbian, yes, that does fall into a special category. All the other behavior you deplore and consider a valid excuse for discarding a dependent child is chosen, and a good deal of it is likely to originate as a response to the derangement of one or both parents. But people do not choose to be gay or lesbian. So the child who is put on the streets for being gay or lesbian has been punished for a BEING crime, not a DOING crime. That is why this is a special category. What black child has worried about losing his or her family when they discover he or she is black? I am not going to budge on this.

The problem I raised is that NO ONE denounced Alan Keyes for throwing out his daughter. That is reprehensible.

Regarding your family therapist friend, you do understand that the people who seek out therapists are those who have been broken by other people with serious disorders who have had power over them, right? A therapist’s sample is going to be almost exclusively comprised of broken people. Also, do you mean that among your therapist friends’ friends, she only knows six people who would not have thrown their dependent teenager out of their home in order to win a will battle over a characteristic the teenager could not change?

I do appreciate your sharing your views so thoughtfully and courteously. It is helpful. I’ve been puzzled why straight people always rush to support parents who throw away their gay teenagers. It seems to boil down to supporting even the most extreme and destructive discipline for bad behavior. But the reason that lesbians and gays, including me, deplore this is that we get thrown away for a characteristic of our very being that we cannot change — for WHO we are — not for something we’ve done.


Stinky April 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

Oops- I think I accidentally posted my reply to your reply in the wrong area!

Cynthia Yockey April 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

Serapia and Stinky,

She went to a demonstration so her father threw her out? And teens never change their minds about their career choices DURING college, so that’s why it is fit and proper to destroy them at the first evidence of age-appropriate rebellion aka self-assertion? Also, Alan Keyes would never LIE about his motivations to make himself look good while doing one of the most heinous things a person can do? And narcissists NEVER deceitfully demonize someone who has embarrassed them?

I do appreciate the dialog. You are quite right that it is easier to change people’s minds when you know how they are thinking — and easiest of all when they feel heard and understood. Our impasse is not coming from my refusing to accept that straight teens are thrown out, too, for a host of reasons. I concede that. It is coming from your refusal to condemn the discarding of teens because they gay. Homsexuality is NOT “a lifestyle choice.”

Also, I am drawing from news reports about the death of Maya’s friend. Stinky, med students have a bachelor’s degree and are over 21. So you had those two things going for you, plus a car. That kid was 16. He didn’t have a car to live in or a high school diploma. You had resources and were resourceful. He didn’t and wasn’t.

The Pew Charitable Trusts did a study on the fates of teens who age out of the foster care system when they turn 18 — here’s how well they manage to fend for themselves:

Studies have documented the serious challenges facing many youth who age out of foster care. One in four will be incarcerated within two years of leaving foster care, 1 in 5 will become homeless, only half will graduate from high school, and less than 3 percent receive college degrees.

These are children who were followed by a social worker and therefore were aware that of the social services system. Parents may not owe their children an education or a home after the age of 18, but my impression remains that Leftist parents are much less likely to throw away their own children over heresy than Right-wing parents are. In that respect, the Left is vastly more family-oriented than the Right.

I would certainly have died if my parents had disowned me when I came out at the age of 18. The progressive illness that almost killed me at age 49 was unknown then. Due to my illness, I have floundered in the area of supporting myself all my adult life. But keeping me in the family, welcoming Margaret and helping us both not only has proved to bring extraordinary good fortune to us, but also to my family. In addition, it changed the course of science because I lived to edit my father’s work, which turned the tide in obtaining Cambridge University Press as the publisher for his 1992 book, Information Theory and Molecular Biology.

This is most definitely NOT predominantly a parents thing, although I don’t deny that parents in a battle to assert their will over their teenagers will use the nuclear option. I think research will show the custom of throwing away gay children is predominantly a Right-wing practice that has its source in feelings of exposure (of one parent’s hidden homosexuality), humiliation and shame, all of which are encouraged and “rubbed raw,” as Saul Alinsky would say, by their church with the bizarre justification that this practice supports the family.

Obviously passions are running high on this topic. I really appreciate the dialog and your sharing your own experiences. It does help. Thank you.


Serapia April 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm

“It is coming from your refusal to condemn the discarding of teens because they gay.”

But I did condemn it.

I said, for example:
” Cutting off familial love…? That is deplorable. I sincerely hope Alan Keyes sees the light and repents of the deplorable breach he has made in his family life.”
“When I said I was disappointed in Alan Keyes for throwing his daughter out, I meant it.”

Calling something deplorable and disappointing, calling it a thing one must repent of, is that not condemning it?

I very much agree with you that children should not be kicked out of the family for being gay. That was one of my underlying assumptions as I wrote my earlier comments. I’m sorry that didn’t come across as clearly as I thought it would.

Cynthia Yockey April 3, 2010 at 4:58 pm


I very much appreciate your clarification and I am grateful for this dialog with you — thank you.


Stinky April 4, 2010 at 10:08 am

I thought that I condemned the WBC and this type of behavior, as well. If I didn’t make myself clear, I am doing so now. I also would not throw out my teen because he or she was gay. My parents’ relative rejection of me made my life a financial living hell for almost 20 years, and I wouldn’t do that to my child.

Cynthia, some people believe that homosexuality IS a “lifestyle choice.” That is where there is a fundamental divergence of viewpoints. I believe that it is NOT a choice for the overwhelming majority of gays and lesbians, although I have known one for whom it was a choice, by her own admission. Unless someone has close friends or family members who are gay, they are not aware of all the issues surrounding sexuality in this regard; they get their exposure to same sex relationships via celebrities, some of whom switch back and forth between gay and straight, further lending credence to the belief that it is a choice for most people (Ann Heche and Julie Cypher come to mind). Again, let me reiterate that I do not believe that. But as an activist in this area, you should keep this in mind and continue to educate people in a positive manner – you wrote a column last year that I thought was spot on, where you stated that eventually people would change their minds out of love for their friends and family who are gay.

As for Keyes’s daughter, I think we should be aware that, in many cases, family dynamics are not as cut and dry as reported in the press. Maya Keyes came out publicly, not only as a lesbian, but as an anarchist, a complete 180 to her father’s positions. When does one stop subsidizing an adult child? Why should he continue to keep her on the payroll when it became clear that she did not agree with him at all, but needed the paycheck? I think that is a line every parent must draw for themselves.

As for her friend, you didn’t mention in your initial comment that he was 16, and that does make a difference.

My impression about the tolerance of the left over heresy in the family is also the opposite of yours, based on my experience. As one example, I used to work in a lab with a wonderful guy, black, who was married to a white woman. He was working on his PhD in immunology. His civil rights-marching, democratic activist family “disowned” him because he married her. Because she was white. The family rift was eventually healed when the grandchildren started arriving.

I see a difference between financially cutting someone off, and cutting them out of your life. If my child came out as gay, I would love them and keep them in my life because I believe that love and stability are good for most people, except those who are nuts and are incapable of responding to it. I would welcome their partner if he/she was a good person. And, for the record, being straight or gay does not define whether someone is a good person to me or not!

Cynthia Yockey April 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm


Homosexuality is not a choice, period. I spent almost eight years in my twenties trying to make myself straight. Finally I was strong enough to be who I am at the age of 30. The people who go back and forth, or call themselves bisexuals, do so either because they are too weak for all the pushback you have to do every single minute of your life if you are gay or lesbian OR because they are sexual prey OR because they are sexual predators who are sexually excited by some kind of vulnerability in their sexual partner rather than anything associated with their partner’s sex.

Johns Hopkins stopped doing sexual reassignment surgery because the doctors there stopped believing that society can socialize people to be straight or gay or traditionally male or female.

Teenagers are supposed to rebel against their parents. It is part of their age-appropriate self-assertion to claim their identity as individuals, separate from their parents. Parents who are mentally and emotionally healthy see their children through this phase. If they can afford it, they educate their child regardless because their child’s life will be better for having an education. They also take the long view, which is that the more their child learns and matures and prepares for a career, the more likely it is that their child will come around. Consider these words, attributed to Mark Twain:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Keyes’ behavior indicates he is a tyrant who proudly and loudly did everything he could to destroy his own daughter for embarrassing him. And you keep coming up with excuses to justify this! You keep denouncing Maya! If you want to understand Alan Keyes, don’t read up on conservatism — read up on borderline (psychotic) personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder and histrionic personality disorder.


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