Last edited: December 08, 2004

Descent into the Lions’ Den with ‘Concerned Women’

Houston Voice, March 30, 2001

By Sue Null

The Web site invitation from Concerned Women for America ( to a breakfast to learn about current issues in the Texas legislature sounded innocuous, but oh God, what a downer!

I went, and it was gruesome. Even though I realized from their Web site that there didn’t appear to be a single issue on which I could agree with these people, after years of being an outspoken P-FLAG parent, I still wasn’t prepared for their fear and negativity.

Apart from a brief mention of redistricting, Medicaid and a few other issues, the two speakers focused on the bills that affected gays and lesbians. Evidently, the passage or destruction of these bills [in their minds] are the clue to making a better Texas in the future.

Charlie Howard, a state legislator, and Teresa Collett, law professor at South Texas College of Law, lamented that the Texas Defense of Marriage Act appears to be tied up in committee. The 50 some good conservative Christian Republican women and a few men (no visible minorities of any kind) in attendance wanted to know what they could do to get it out of committee and to preserve Texas’ morality from the frightful homosexual agenda.

Collett identified herself as one of the few female Christian Republican law professors in the country. She was relieved to see that the Texas 14th Court of Appeals had upheld the sodomy law because in her mind, not doing so would be the first crucial step to same-sex marriage.

Next would be the passage of a civil unions law without identifying the "signature sex act" that defines the "union." This "signature sex act" was repeated like a mantra throughout the morning; it was important whether it produced children or not and gay and lesbian unions couldn’t possibly do the same.

She admitted that gay men and women could have strong "friendships," but that the state shouldn’t be expected to license friendships. She also said that a practical secular reason for opposing domestic partner benefits is that because of the inherent instability in gay relationships, and the constant changing of partners, there is increased cost in administering such a program.

Then, of course, she made it clear that none of her objections were homophobic in nature, and that if she should suffer the tragedy of having a child in the gay "lifestyle," she could continue loving that child while expecting him/her to be celibate.

The audience fretted over the dire possibilities of gay teachers in the schools, gay adoption and possibility of domestic partner benefits becoming enacted in Houston sometime in the future. It was ironic to watch them revel in their photographs taken at their lobby day against DOMA on Feb. 14 in Austin when I was planning to lobby two days later for the very same bill they were fighting against.

At the end, I was able to get a few words in edgewise at the mike. I told the assembly that while they were so concerned about protecting the family, they were leaving my family out in the cold. My gay and lesbian children were no threat to them, and sexual minority people were already in the schools, in their churches, in their workplaces, functioning as responsible people.

The Texas DOMA was pointless and hurtful, and there were so many real problems in Texas to deal with; why were they expending so much time and energy on denying my children equal rights?

Their answer, obviously, was to "love the sinner, hate the sin." God, what a tiresome excuse for thinking! A visiting lesbian came up and thanked me for speaking. So did an older CWA woman who recounted the story of how she had been cast out of acceptable society because she had a schizophrenic child.

One young woman allowed as how maybe one of her three kids might turn out to be gay and she needed to learn how to understand that.

But others spoke of the predictable: the benefits of prayer, the possibilities of "change," and their discomfort with homosexuals’ being in their face with demands for acceptance.

One woman kindly handed me a Family Research Council Documentary video, which I guess is supposed to fix my kids-or me. Another demanded to know what church I was from and derisively assumed it must be Unitarian; actually, that’s true, but I didn’t want to acknowledge that she was right, so I simply said that my church supported the "inherent worth and dignity of every individual."

All these lovely CWA women were sweet and gracious and kind and smiling, but scary with their utter confidence in their righteousness and with their zeal to achieve their ends; are we in the GLBT community going to work hard enough to be able to derail them?

  • Sue Null is an active member of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

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