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Gay 'Facts' in Mailers Disputed : Politics: A close look at claims made by anti-homosexual forces in a debate over the Irvine Human Rights Ordinance shows some distortion of facts and misstatements.

November 03, 1989|ERIC LICHTBLAU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

IRVINE — To many, the campaign claims are nothing short of shocking: Homosexuals have an exorbitant number of lovers. They want to have sex with children. They relentlessly push their beliefs on a straight society.

Such claims are part of a barrage of campaign mailers and brochures put out by Irvine anti-gay rights activists seeking to remove gays from protection under the city's Human Rights Ordinance. The activists back them up with what they claim is hard evidence--studies, interviews, court cases--to blast the homosexual "life style."

But a closer examination of at least four repeated campaign claims shows them to be distortions or outright misrepresentations of the facts. From New York to Minneapolis, from Oregon to Los Angeles, officials involved in examples cited by the anti-gay forces in the Measure N debate dispute the claims.

Measure N would repeal a 15-month-old city provision banning bias based on sexual orientation in such areas as employment, housing and city services. It was placed on Tuesday's ballot by a group of local residents espousing "traditional values" and is backed by religious fundamentalists, such as the Anaheim-based Rev. Louis Sheldon.

Those in the Irvine political establishment seeking to defeat Measure N--and retain the existing protections--have steadfastly painted their arguments with broad strokes of anti-discrimination and human rights.

By contrast, the Irvine Values Coalition, the group pushing Measure N, has waged an explicit point-by-point attack on homosexuals in general and on civil rights for the group in particular, often printing graphic claims at length under screaming red headlines.

But the credibility of some of the coalition's principal claims do not fare well under scrutiny. Consider:

--A recent pro-Measure N newsletter to thousands of Irvine voters, seeking to show that "most people's ideas about promiscuity pale in comparison to the reality of homosexual behavior," asserted that: "A 1982 Center(s) for Disease Control study showed that homosexual men infected with the AIDS virus had averaged 1,100 partners."

But a spokesman for the federal agency in Atlanta said: "That's simply incorrect." The only such study ever done by the Centers for Disease Control was a 1981 survey showing that a sample group of gay, AIDS-infected men had averaged 60 partners in a year, said agency aide Chuck Fallis.

--Pro-N forces declared that, in Oregon, "homosexuals pressured the governor to issue an executive order which had the effect of forcing foster care agencies to allow homosexuals to become foster parents to neglected and abused children."

But an aide to Gov. Neal Goldschmidt in Oregon said of that account: "That's simply not true. It isn't close to reality at all."

The October, 1987, executive order was signed, but not under any pressure from homosexuals, and meant no change from then-existing foster care policy in the state, asserted spokesman Gregg Kantor. The state does not routinely place children in gay homes and to date has done so in only about 10 cases involving children with AIDS, he said.

--"The 1972 Gay Rights Platform contains among its demands the repeal of all laws governing the age of sexual consent, arguing that children as young as 8 years of age have the right to decide whether they they can enter into sexual relationships with adults," according to one pro-N piece.

A copy of the disputed platform--provided by the office of Rep. William E. Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton)--calls for "the repeal of all laws governing the age of sexual consent" but makes no mention of 8-year-olds being allowed to have sex with adults.

Further, officials at several nationally based gay groups said they are unfamiliar with the rights platform mentioned and that, despite the charges of critics, no one in the established gay community has ever called for the legalization of sex with children.

"To use something that some fringe political extremists in 1972 may have thought was an agenda item and compare it to today is completely misleading," said Robert Bray of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington. "That issue has never been discussed by anyone in the gay movement."

--In one of the most frequently cited cases, included in their ballot argument and almost all literature, Measure N proponents point to a human rights ordinance in Minneapolis. By their account, the ordinance meant that a Big Brothers group there had to pay $6,000 in fines and solicit homosexual Big Brothers after a court challenge to the organization's practice of telling a mother that her son's potential match was gay.

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