Dave Agema's Homophobic Facebook Post Was Short On Facts

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Republican National Committeeman and former state Rep. Dave Agema really stepped in it when he argued on Facebook that homosexuality is a health threat. It's not only gay rights organizations that are outraged. Conservative activists like Cheboygan's Dennis Lennox and national pundit S.E. Cupp have also condemned Agema for being offensive, mean-spirited, and homophobic. 

But it really shouldn't matter that Agema's comments are offensive, mean-spirited, and homophobic. The real problem is that Dave Agema is wrong. One can get away with saying offensive and mean-spirited thing if they're true. For instance: "People who believe Sylvia Browne talks to the dead are imbeciles." That would be an arguably offensive and mean-spirited statement. It would also be true

Agema's thoughts on the dangers of homosexuality, however, are false and easily debunked. He's no better than the huckster selling copper bracelets to improve your golf game and colonics to improve everything else. Rather than reporting who is and isn't offended by Dave Agema, we're going to explain why the anti-gay quackery he passes off as science is bollocks. 

Agema posted to Facebook a column by retired doctor of internal medicine and right-wing activist named Frank Joseph. According to his bio on dailycatholic.org, Joseph left family practice to focus on internal medicine when "abortion became not only the norm but expected of many doctors." So, right away, Dr. Joseph betrays himself as an unreliable narrator. Not only is abortion not "the norm," but the number of doctors performing abortions are in decline.

As to his specific claims about homosexuality, let's break down Dr. Joseph's "statistics."

One study reports 70% of homosexuals admitting to having sex only one time with over 50% of their partners (3).

One study reports that the average homosexual has between 20 and 106 partners per year (6). The average heterosexual has 8 partners in a lifetime.

Joseph's first study is from 1978 and his second is from 1980, an era before HIV and before long-term gay relationships were accepted by general society. A 2010 review of data collected by the dating website OkCupid, showed the promiscuity levels of straight and gay users to be virtually identical--99% of straights and 98% of gays had 20 of fewer sexual partners . And, for what it's worth, another 2010 study concluded that "artists and poets have as many as 233 percent more sexual partners than people who aren't artists or poets." Parents, watch out. Iambic pentameter is a gateway to herpes.

Many homosexual sexual encounters occur while drunk, high on drugs, or in an orgy setting (7).

As do many heterosexual sexual encounters. Just how the word "many" is defined here is impossible to know because Joseph doesn't cite a study to back this claim. Instead, his lists his source as the "Family Research Institute, Lincoln, NE." This group also claims President Barack Obama may be gay, so take their supposed "research" into drunken gay orgies for what it's worth.

Many homosexuals don't pay heed to warnings of their lifestyles: "Knowledge of health guidelines was quite high, but this knowledge had no relation to sexual behavior" (16).

Again, Joseph cites an ancient study. This one was published in 1985. According to recent reports, HIV among younger gay men is rising because condom use is declining. Why? HIV awareness is "waning." Contrary to Joseph's claims based on a nearly 30-year-old study, "knowledge of health guidelines" does reduce unsafe behavior: "A good example of a particularly effective intervention is the Mpowerment project, which was implemented in California, USA...The project successfully raised awareness about the risks of unprotected anal sex throughout the community and reduced unprotected anal sex among young gay men."

Homosexuals got homosexuality removed from the list of mental illnesses in the early 70s by storming the annual American Psychiatric Association (APA) conference on successive years. "Guerrilla theater tactics and more straight-forward shouting matches characterized their presence" (2). Since homosexuality has been removed from the APA list of mental illnesses, so has pedophilia (except when the adult feels "subjective distress") (27).

Actually, according to the APA, the removal of homosexuality from the DSM's mental illness list was the result of scientific studies, including the groundbreaking research of Dr. Evelyn Hooker. Science!

Joseph's claim that the APA doesn't consider pedophilia a mental illness is backed by a 1989 Congressional Record citation, which means some Congressman (protected by parliamentarian immunity) said it was so. That does not make the statement true. The APA does consider pedophilia is considered a mental illness.

Homosexuals account for 3-4% of all gonorrhea cases, 60% of all syphilis cases, and 17% of all hospital admissions (other than for STDs) in the United States (5). They make up only 1-2% of the population.

Homosexuals live unhealthy lifestyles, and have historically accounted for the bulk of syphilis, gonorrhea, Hepatitis B, the "gay bowel syndrome" (which attacks the intestinal tract), tuberculosis and cytomegalovirus (27).

Again, Joseph cites a study from 1987 and that 1989 Congressional Record entry to back up his assertions. However, in this case, there is some truth to the general idea that gay men are at greater risk for sexually-transmitted diseases. People like Frank Joseph and Dave Agema are a big reason why this is true. According to the Center for Disease Control: "Additionally, homophobia and stigma can prevent MSM from seeking and getting appropriate health services."

73% of psychiatrists say homosexuals are less happy than the average person, and of those psychiatrists, 70% say that the unhappiness is NOT due to social stigmatization (13).
 
25-33% of homosexuals and lesbians are alcoholics (11).
Joseph again relies on studies from 1977 and 1987 to make these claims. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center: "It is true that LGBT people suffer higher rates of anxiety, depression, and depression-related illnesses and behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse than the general population. But studies done during the past 15 years have determined that it is the stress of being a member of a minority group in an often-hostile society — and not LGBT identity itself — that accounts for the higher levels of mental illness and drug use."
 
Those are the first nine of something like 25 or so "facts" that Dr. Frank Joseph claims proves that being gay is unhealthy or dangerous. Unpack those assertions and you'll find outdated studies, unsubstantiated claims, and half truths from an unreliable narrator. It's not worth digging deeper into this quacktastic pile of bullshit.
 
Here's the deal: Stop worrying if Dave Agema is an offensive homophobe and start worrying why a person of significant political power like Dave Agema believes garbage spewed by a certifiable witch doctor.
 
And, to my fellow journalist types, if we all spent less time covering the he said/she said outrage and a little more time fact-checking these statements, well, it would go along way to eliminating the scourge of homophobia and other forms of ignorance and stupidity.

 

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