Public Discourse, a publication of the right-wing Witherspoon Institute, published a “message” this week from a “Latina Mama” to Pete Buttigieg, a gay mayor and 2020 presidential candidate. The article, which traffics in anti-gay stereotyping and propaganda, is being promoted on social media by the Heritage Foundation’s Ryan Anderson, who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Public Discourse.
The title sets the tone by portraying Buttigieg and his “sexual ideology” as a threat to children: “A Message to Mayor Pete from a Latina Mama: ‘Don’t Force Your Sexual Ideology on Me and My Children.’”
“Mothers are very good at educating and protecting our children from harm when we believe they are in danger,” Ana Samuel writes. “This time, that danger is the sexual ideology of the Left.”
Samuel is more than a “Latina Mama.” She is a research scholar at the Witherspoon Institute, which helped fund and promote the widely discredited Mark Regnerus “family structures” study that the Religious Right still uses to undermine gay parents. Her 2018 video on “Sex, Gender and Identity” opposes everything from gender-bending fashion to gender transition, and promotes Anderson’s anti-trans book, “When Harry Became Sally.”
Samuel is also is the “academic director” of a group called CanaVox, which sets up reading groups that promote “the historic understanding of marriage.” CanaVox presents a “positively cheerful” tone, but when it comes to positions on sexuality, its message for gay people—pardon me, “persons with same-sex attraction”—is to stick with friendships, stay away from sex, and don’t even think about getting married or being a parent.
Here’s how CanaVox “cheerfully” presents that message: “We cheer for those who seek authentic friendship, resist sexualizing their friendships, including same-sex and lgbt friendships, and seek sexual integrity as their path for joy.” Having “sexual integrity” means “to be in control of our sexual desires rather than to be controlled by them.” For CanaVox, that means sex only within a man-woman marriage.
That language reflects the teaching of the Catholic hierarchy, which is not surprising given that Samuel is a member of the ultra-conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei.
In her Public Discourse article, Samuel begins by taking issue with a Buggigieg tweet that was part of his back-and-forth with Vice President Mike Pence. “People will often be polite to you in person, while advancing policies that harm you and your family,” his tweet read. “You will be polite to them in turn, but you need not stand for such harms. Instead, you push back, honestly and emphatically. So it goes, in the public arena.”
That seems pretty polite. But Samuel complains that the “sub-text” of his tweet is “that anyone who refuses to cheer for same-sex marriage or support the Left’s sexual ideology is a bigot—someone who is out to harm Mayor Pete and his family.”
Well, yes, given that Buttigieg is married and reportedly about to become a parent, he and his family have a lot to lose at the hands of people and politicians who would strip him of his right to do either.
Samuel’s article complains about school curricula that “normalize LGBT lifestyles,” pediatricians who promote birth control, sex ed classes that teach about sex, and books that feature LGBT characters. Samuel goes even further when it comes to “transgender propaganda,” which she calls “the latest round of violence against children.”
In a section subtitled “Check Your Financial Privilege,” Samuel traffics in stereotypes about wealthy gay couples, saying “it takes a lot of money to circumvent nature.”
Amigo, I’m sorry, but these are the truths of nature. Hijacking nature with cutting edge technology may sound attractive to those who can afford the niceties of upper-class life, but not to those working to meet their basic daily needs. (Do you think getting a sex change is cheap? Don’t you think the poor have other things to think about?)
Samuel argues that “it’s well-off same-sex couples who can afford to cushion themselves and their children from the costly effects of the progressive sexual lifestyle,” something she says “cannot be sustained by millions of people who make less money than you.” Writes Samuel, “The mothers in my circles know this, and we care about those poor children—and their mothers and fathers, too.”
Well, Amiga, it’s not just financially stable gay male couples like Buttigieg and his husband who have kids. In fact, LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples are raising children all over the country. LGBTQ women are more likely than men to be raising children. Black and Latino same-sex couples are more likely to raise children than white same-sex couples. LGBTQ parents have, on average, lower incomes than different-sex-couple parents, and they are more likely to live in areas with the fewest legal protections for their families. So if you’re really concerned about women, children, and the poor, you should support policies that protect and support these families as well.
There’s an important “truth” that Samuel doesn’t acknowledge. In her article, Samuel presents herself as speaking on behalf of “Hispanic mothers” and “Latina mamas with traditional family values.” She ends with a short message in Spanish in which she urges “my Latina sisters” not to let “gender ideology” undermine “our cultural values” around the family. But she’s the one who’s out of touch with the family values of Hispanic Americans, who support marriage equality by a large margin. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 61 percent of Hispanic Americans—and three-quarters of young Hispanics—favor same-sex marriage.
One final note: Reminiscent of CanaVox’s “cheerful” opposition to LGBTQ identity and equality, Samuel insists that people like her are “the opposite of bigots.” She says she recognizes that LGBT people are “rights-bearing individuals” who are “endowed with human dignity.” But, and you knew a “but” was coming, she distinguishes “between affectionate concern for you as a person and disagreement with your ideas.” Of course, Samuel is not simply disagreeing with the “ideas” of LGBTQ people; she is part of a movement that is waging a campaign to deny our identity and legal equality and yes, harm our families. It’s impossible not to notice that she manages to use the phrase “rectal intercourse” not once, but twice, in her Public Discourse article, which suggests to me that she’s deploying a strategy promoted by some right-wing activists to talk explicitly about gay sex in order to try to generate disgust toward gay people.