Paul Smith Responds to Joe Volz

Published in The Frederick News-Post
Sunday, October 23, 2005

Joe Volz’ column of October 7th merits a response because he misrepresents me in an attempt to advance his own political agenda. Mr. Volz urges the courts to overturn the Maryland law that authorizes marriage only between “a man and a woman.” While this was not previously an aldermanic issue, Mr. Volz has changed that. He labels me (and presumably anyone who would dare to differ with him on this issue) to be a “gay bash[er]” and a “homophob[e].” Mr. Volz is wrong about me. I do not fear gays and I harbor no ill will for those who choose the gay life style. I have love in my heart for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. It is true that I regard as “sin” any sexual relations (conduct) between two individuals unless they are married. But I do not believe that I said “homosexuality is a sin.” It was Mr. Volz, not I, who introduced sin into the discussion of this issue. In any event, it does not follow that I have ill will towards those whose conduct violates my religious standards. In fact, I have no ill will towards them. My intent, if elected to be an Alderman, is to represent all Frederick residents without regard to religious, cultural and social differences.

Perhaps Mr. Volz feels that accusing me of “homophobia” and “gay bashing” will somehow discourage people from speaking up in support of our law’s preference for traditional marriage. But this should not happen. In my talk with Mr. Volz, only a few minutes were spent on the gay rights issue. When I told Mr. Volz that I stood by my earlier statement, he quickly moved on to another topic. I don’t think Mr. Volz expected me to be ready to defend my
opinions, and he showed no interest in learning the basis for them. When Mr. Volz later announced in his column that “there is no sense arguing with a man who is so burdened with unmitigated fear of homosexuality,” this mischaracterized me personally, and it demonstrated his own lack of awareness of the substantial scientific studies on the causes and effects of the gay lifestyle.

Studies show that traditional marriage is best for raising children; that mothers and fathers contribute in complementary ways to the healthy development of children (Byrd, 2005). Children raised in homes without both a mother and a father are more likely to have health problems, juvenile court problems and the need for public welfare assistance (Byrd, Popenoe). Studies also show that there are greater incidences of AIDS, drug abuse, depression and suicide among gays than among heterosexuals. A gay couple may be able to teach their children math and English very well, but they cannot model a loving relationship between a man and a woman.

Mr. Volz condemns me by attempting to classify me with those who discriminated against the blacks in the 19th Century. But the comparison he offers between blacks and gays is a faulty one. No one can change his race or color. But the research is clear that homosexuality is neither innate nor immutable. (See, e.g., Friedman, Downey, Wright, Cummings.) The widely accepted notion that people are born that way is not supported by research. In fact, the three researchers whose studies have been misinterpreted to support this erroneous notion have all
declared that there is no gay gene (LeVay, Hamer, Bailey). Numerous studies (including those made on identical twins) show that a person’s experiences and environment play a significant role in determining that person’s sexual orientation. Similarly, Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, the famed researcher who was responsible for the removal of homosexuality as a disorder from the psychiatric manual in 1973, published a study in 2003 that concluded that some people can and do change their sexual orientation. These prominent researchers support the conclusion that
homosexuality is an adaptation, and that individuals can change their sexual orientation.

Name-calling is a tactic often used in an effort to attempt to stifle legitimate debate. That is exactly what Mr. Volz’ article attempts to accomplish. If Frederick City reaches the point where decisions are made by name-calling rather than by a substantive discussion of issues, then we will indeed be in serious trouble.

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