Current Affairs

Lesbian couple arrested for non-violent protest

Tony Grew February 20, 2007
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Two women were removed by police yesterday from the headquarters of American Christian pressure group Focus on the Family as part of a non-violent gay rights protest.

Dotti Berry and Robynne Sapp of Blaine, Washington, entered the evangelical organisation’s headquarters in Colorado to join a regularly scheduled tour.

Once inside, the two women requested a meeting with James Dobson, who heads Focus on the Family, which claims to be a non-partisan organisation that “nurtures and develops families.”

In reality it is opposed to same-sex parents, and has been accused of falsifying and distorting research to confirm their opinion that gay and lesbian families are deficient.

The lesbian couple were eventually arrested for trespassing.

Their protest was organised under the auspices of Soulforce, “a national civil rights and social justice organisation.”

It was part of their ongoing “Focus on the Facts” campaign of civil disobedience, modelled on Gandhi’s philosophy of non violent social change.

Soulforce said that:

“Dobson and his staff at Focus on the Family have consistently misrepresented LGBT families as dangerous and undeserving of equal protection under the law.

“These dehumanising portrayals are often bolstered by misleading references to social science research.”

Focus on the Family denied they are anti-gay.

“We don’t believe standing up for traditional families diminishes (anybody),” Gay Schneeberger, a spokesman for the group, told Rocky Mountain News.

Focus on the Family has gained considerable publicity due to the pregnancy of Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary.

The group have some political influence, and they have affiliate groups in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Holland, South Africa and New Zealand.

In December 2006, Mr Dobson authored a Time Magazine editorial condemning Mary Cheney and her partner, Heather Poe, for their decision to have a child.

Two of the social scientists Dobson cited in his opinion piece, Dr. Kyle Pruett of Yale University and Dr. Carol Gilligan of New York University, have publicly contested Dobson’s use of their research to rationalise discrimination against lesbian and gay parents.

“The two most loving women in the world cannot provide a daddy for a little boy, any more than the two most loving men can be complete role models for a little girl,” Mr Dobson wrote.

Ms Cheney, speaking at a panel discussion at a New York college last month, defended herself and gay parents everywhere.

“When Heather and I decided to have a baby, I knew it wasn’t going to be the most popular decision,” said Ms Cheney.

“This is a baby. This is a blessing from God. It is not a political statement. It is not a prop to be used in a debate, on either side of a political issue. It is my child.

“Every piece of remotely responsible research that has been done in the last 20 years has shown there is no difference between children raised by same-sex parents and children raised by opposite-sex parents; what matters is being raised in a stable, loving environment.”

Ms Cheney, 37, a vice-president at internet company AOL, has not revealed how the baby was conceived or when it is due.

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