Katy Faust is not, she assures us, a bigot.
The US conservative has been in Australia lobbying MPs not to endorse marriage equality, and has somehow achieved the role of go-to conservative for the ABC, scoring a booking on Lateline and last night’s Q&A.
Charismatic and well versed in the talking points of the marriage debate, Faust combines the familiar conservative evangelical stance with a disarming personal narrative. She has a mother in a same-sex relationship who she is close with and appears genuinely respectful when taking questions from LGBTI families, despite the content of her responses, which is clearly degrading.
This background has come to the fore during her Australian tour, and provided a useful defence to allegations of prejudice.
Sure, she opposes marriage equality. Yes, she says same-sex parents are “inflicting” motherlessness and fatherlessness on their children, as though a form of abuse. True, her blog hosts posts linking homosexuality to paedophilia and is literally called “ask the bigot”.
But still, she emphatically reminds us, she is not one.
“This debate has been one that’s framed on prejudice,” she said on Q&A.
“And what that does is it shuts down a real robust debate.”
So let’s give Faust the benefit of the doubt, avoid that label and move her into a new nomenclature.
Assuming the arguments she makes are not bigoted, they can most adequately be described as delusional.
Looking beyond her views on matrimony helps demonstrate the point.
Here is Faust’s take on the protests and anger in Ferguson, the Missouri town which became a symbol of racial injustice and police brutality in the US after unarmed black teenager Michael Brown was shot dead by a white officer in August last year.
In an open letter to those in the town protesting to mark the anniversary of the killing Faust writes:
You have suffered a grave, systemic, institutionalized injustice. But it’s not what you think it is.
It’s not The Man and it’s not racism. I do not deny the existence of racism but the color of your skin is not at the heart of this matter. The problem is more powerful and profoundly wounding to your souls.
You are suffering the outcome of the disappearance of committed fathers in your community.
Despite Ferguson’s history of racial division, the overrepresentation of whites in the police force, and the disproportionate impact police killings have on black Americans across the country, Faust is confident in telling the protesters their distress is not a rational reaction to the loss of a young man’s life.
It’s the direct consequence of high divorce and the breakdown of the nuclear family in America, she asserts.
Because, obviously, the police officer who executed Brown first stopped to ask the marital status of his parents.
Nowhere in the piece does Faust feel compelled to compare divorce rates in Ferguson to anywhere else in the US, comment on why the Ferguson community in particular would be impacted by such a phenomenon, or explain what any of this has to do with Brown’s death and the subsequent reaction. She psychoanalyses an entire population based on nothing more than a hunch.
Even when you put aside the issue of her disrespect and patronising racism – the fact that Faust feels entitled to tell black Americans what they want, why they are protesting, and what is or is not racism – her assessment is still painfully inadequate.
So too with her arguments on same-sex marriage.
Faust runs the same ‘somebody think of the children’ argument so many other conservatives have turned to.
This firstly ignores the fact that marriage and parenthood are separate concepts.
Same-sex marriage and same sex adoption, or access to IVF for instance, are not the same thing. An argument against same-sex parenting is not an argument against same-sex marriage.
And even if it was, a broad body of research has found children raised by same-sex parents do not suffer worse outcomes than those who don’t.
Last night, Faust was confronted with this evidence and responded with a rhetorical question about “convenience” samples.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) August 17, 2015
The argument is rebutted by researchers such as Jennifer Power, who points to a meta-analysis of research into the subject and notes “numerous studies conducted over time and in various locations, all which show children with same-sex parents are doing well – is a major strength of this body of research.”
Faust is immune to evidence like this.
You could call this bigoted. It seems especially appropriate given the fact we also know that the public conversation on sexuality has a real impact on LGBTI families and individuals, and can do real harm. This is not just idle conversation, it is the kind of speech that converts into something more dangerous, something tangible and physical.
But describing Faust as delusional is in some ways an even better descriptor.
Like Joe de Bruyn sitting alone at the Labor conference as his party slowly divorces his obsession and moves towards a binding vote on marriage equality, like Eric Abetz spinning increasingly bizarre arguments about Italian fashion designers in his party room, like Scott Morrison desperately trying to defer the inevitable with political obfuscation, Faust has lost contact with reality.
Marriage equality is coming.
The big problem for social conservatives is not that they are being denied a platform to make their arguments.
It’s that their arguments no longer provoke any response from the majority of Australians, and have fallen out of favour across the western world.
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