I’m a 40 year old gay man who’s chosen to stay and live his whole life in Montana. I’m deeply offended by the comments made by my senator, Theresa Manzella, at Clinton Community Church on Nov. 17th.
While Manzella has said her comments were taken out of context when reported on by the Missoulian, I believe they are far worse than is being reported. To be sure I wasn’t being misled I watched the entire 13-minute video of her speech.
I’d like to discuss some of her claims and how outrageously inflammatory and out of touch they are. It should be noted that Manzella’s remarks are prepared, so nothing she says is “off the cuff.”
Manzella starts her speech by discussing her Christian faith, belief in Jesus Christ and her sin. She says we need to repent from our sins and lists the categories of sinners, “the murderer, adulteress, the liar, the cheat, the thief, the child molester, the pedophile, the homosexual, nor the transgender.”
Note, Theresa, people are transgender, transgenders are not objects, so you don’t need to call them “the transgender.” She says none are too far gone from God’s reach and forgiveness.
I understand the basic tenets of Christian faith call for redemption from everything labeled “sin,” but can you really tell me that because of the way I was born I am equivalent to people who CHOOSE to steal, lie, murder and touch kids? If you haven’t already figured out, Theresa falls into the completely discredited theory that gay people choose their “lifestyle.”
She continues, “but as we consider these complicated issues, and the people who are currently participating in the ‘alternative LGBTQ lifestyles’ [we must not forget their intrinsic worth.]” I guess credit to Theresa, as long as we can be saved into their church, we have intrinsic worth.
At 4:00, the speech goes off the rails. Manzella states, “We have no idea what has happened to these people in their individual lives to cause them to be making the choices they’ve made. We must engage in civil conversation with them… so ultimately we can point them to the Cross.
We have to look at what we’re doing in our society and wonder why we’re seeing such an increase in ‘alternative lifestyles’ and I’m sure you’re aware the numbers of LGBTQRSVP (Theresa makes a joke, then laughs at her own hack joke) is growing at a pretty alarming rate of speed.
I just read a report that as many as 30% of our millennials identify as LGBTQ and that’s really hard to believe, I certainly don’t SEE that many, I hope it’s just them feeling the pressure to fit in, and that’s one of the biggest problems I have with ‘the movement’ is the recruiting.”
It’s at this point Manzella stops to emphasize the point that children are being ‘recruited,’ even nodding her head and saying yes to audience members a bit shocked by her claim. “I don’t want them recruiting our children in public schools.” Some audience in Clinton Community Church respond, “Amen.”
At 5:37 Manzella speculates what might be causing the large numbers of people to identify as LGBT. “Could it be the hormones we’re injecting into our meat supply? We certainly know that young ladies are entering into menstruation much earlier than they used to. Could it be the vaccines LACED with aborted baby cells? Who knows?
People would think I’m maybe crazy for saying that but (here she uses a mocking voice) ‘It’s only a little tiny bit and it’s just a few aborted baby cells of the opposite sex..’ but after 72 doses, 72 doses is what the average child receives. Could that being playing a part in their confusion, in their dysphoria? I don’t know but I know that Jesus is the answer to ALL our problems in the United States today.”
Manzella speaks individually to the Huber case for several minutes but at 10:20 she resumes her attacks on gays saying, “My right to live a righteous lifestyle based upon my sincerely held beliefs does not end where your choice to live a perverse lifestyle begins. Your decision to be perverse does not trump my right to be righteous. That is clear.”
At 11:17 Manzella finally makes the remarks reported by Missoulian reporter Skylar Rispens, “Now they likely to play the protected class card, and they’re the minority, and they’re discriminated against, and they’re scared to walk down the street hand in hand… and I gotta tell ya, I think those are normal consequences associated with the choices they’re making.”
It should be noted when she’s listing the grievances of gay people, she uses a mocking tone to indicate these claims aren’t serious, but her tone changes when she says these are the ‘normal consequences’ of their choices. She even pauses for a few amens and agreement in the audience to her assertion gays being fearful is ‘normal.’ “We don’t prevent them from doing that,” she says.
Manzella finishes by again asserting all American problems can be solved with Jesus, citing Proverbs. “If you want to know how to fix America, put Jesus back in all the places you’ve asked him to leave. School, government, your home, your church and your heart.”
First, let’s just take stock the claims Manzella makes. I think you’re allowed to view the world anyway you please, but if your sincerely held religious beliefs equivocates the choices to harm others and harm children with people otherwise just living their lives, I have a serious problem. I’ve lived in Montana my entire life and committed no crimes, touched no children, stole no property, murdered no one etc., so I’m struggling to see how they’re equivalent.
It’s offensive to me and has been for decades for Christians to compare gay people to murderers and pedophiles. The pedophile claim is even more offensive if you consider 50 years ago it was standard Anita Bell anti-gay rhetoric to say gays are grooming children or molesting them.
Second, she multiple times refers to the ‘alternative lifestyle’ and ‘choices’ of gay and transgender people. This is completely debunked by modern science. In fact, technology becoming cheaper over the past 20 years has allowed us to not only do thousands of brain scans on LGBT individuals, but also on developing fetuses.
It’s common knowledge in the field that all babies are by default female, and then around 8 weeks of development are sexed into being male by testosterone being released by the testes in utero.
Our best evidence says that some malfunction during development doesn’t fully masculinize the brain, usually creating a gay man or assigned male at birth transgender woman, although this is not always case, for example lesbians and transgender men. In all our research since the 1930s on gay and transgender individuals, we see this theory being confirmed. We’ve even located the ‘gay gene’ on the X chromosome, which is why we see gay people more common among matrilineal blood lines.
So, Theresa, nobody is ‘participating in the gay lifestyle,’ anymore than you’re ‘choosing’ to participate in the straight lifestyle. Just because LGBT individuals are unique or uncommon biologically does not mean they are making an active choice to be gay. Apart from normal biological processes completely out of human control, nothing has ‘happened’ to us. Also, which is it? Did something happen to us or did we make a choice? You’re contradicting yourself a bit here by asserting both.
Third, I think it’s incredibly offensive to make the claim that gays are ‘recruiting’ children. Right wing beliefs about LGBT children being recruited stem from efforts in school to try and minimize the stress and discomfort of growing up different. Many schools now openly discussion sexuality and gender identity in an effort to let children know these are not shameful things to be.
Some Republicans have asserted these efforts to accommodate LGBT children in growing up shame free lives is equivalent to ‘recruiting’ them, since some teachers refer students who they believe might be gay to LGBT support groups on some school campuses. However, considering the history of charges in the past that gay people ‘recruit’ or ‘groom’ children, it’s blatantly offensive to equivocate the two and no public official should be making any speeches asserting they are the same. Period.
Fourth, in perusing Manzella’s biography she lists experience working at a GM plant in Michigan before moving to Montana to care for horses, but no higher education. Perhaps that is why she feels comfortable asserting things like “hormones in our meat are causing girls to menstruate,” and “vaccines are laced with aborted baby cells.”
Yes, Theresa, perhaps you let your conscience slip for a moment, because I DO think you’re crazy for saying that, as does anyone who’s bothered to study these issues on even a basic level. According to the CDC only 19 vaccines are listed for children under 18, not 72. I’m not even sure how the vaccine industry can separate out the girl and boy aborted fetal cells to make sure and inject into the right people to turn them gay or trans, but no vaccines I’ve ever had were marked boy or girl to make sure to turn me into the other. Perhaps she can elaborate or cite the scientific evidence for these Alex Jones level beliefs.
And honestly, person to person, human being to human being, Theresa, I’m not a pervert. You say your religion is full of love, and yet you put so many labels on other people who are simply different. In the same way you critique the left for mandating vaccines under the guise of helping, your religious beliefs label me ‘alternative,’ ‘perverse’ and equivalent to murderers, thieves and kids touchers simply for existing. Is that really what you see as love? Equivocating people born differently trying to live their lives as criminals and deviants?
So we come to the pièce de resistance, Theresa’s assertion that gays are ‘playing the protected class card,’ we’re scared to walk down the street, and I gotta tell ya, those are normal consequences associated with the choices we’re making.’ And I’d just like to say, fuck you, Theresa. You’re a public official, meant to represent everyone, including me. I expect better.
I’ve lived here a long time and worked hard with my neighbors to create a more welcoming atmosphere for LGBT people. I’ve seen people’s houses set on fire in Missoula with them and their children inside for being lesbian. When I lived in Bozeman I watched our local LGBT group’s Coming Out Day closet dismantled, then reassembled, then firebombed with a noose tied around it.
I watched our state Constitution voted on in 2004 to specifically exclude gay marriage. I’ve watched personal friends full of life withering and pass away from HIV/AIDS. But I haven’t seen things that bad for quite a long time and honestly thought we were past this. I guess we’re not.
We live in a time where many people, understandably, are skeptical of the news reporting and efforts to ‘spin’ the news to be favorable to one side or the other. Like many others, I try to do my own research and see things for myself before making a judgment. And I must say, Theresa Manzella’s comments are more deeply disturbing and out-of-touch than anything originally reported by the Missoulian.
Her backwards assertions about gays ‘choosing’ or being ‘recruited’ into an LGBT lifestyle, her references to gay people as ‘perverse,’ her assertions about hormones, aborted fetal cells being ‘laced’ into vaccines to turn people the opposite gender and her assertion fear of displaying same-sex affection is natural are some of the most ignorant, offensive and blatantly stupid things I’ve heard come from the mouth of any politician, and that’s saying a lot.
Senator Manzella needs to resign for these comments, period. A person this willfully and grotesquely ignorant should not be serving anyone in state government. If she wants to make her fundamentalist, hateful, wacky religious beliefs the cornerstone of her life, she can do it from the seat of a private individual, but she should not be trusted to make laws for all Montanans.
As long as Manzella holds power in the state and Republican leadership condones these remarks, outwardly or through their silence, LGBT people cannot feel safe here, and perhaps the point of her remarks is that they not. Scary, indeed.
Tim Adams, Stevensville