NARTH, William Tam, and the Key to Anti-Gay Hate

William Tam, the Prop 8 author who attempted to withdraw from the Prop 8 trial last week, was soundly eviscerated Thursday by plaintiff’s attorney David Boies.

It was rewarding to watch so many trucks driven through Tam’s (and by extension, other anti-gay leaders) arguments, but there was a nugget of information buried in his testimony that I think most people missed. In fact, I doubt that Tam himself caught the problem.

Here’s the complete transcript (pdf) from January 21, 2009, but I pulled out the two brief quotes, both from pages 1939-1940 (198-199 of the pdf).

Q. (David Boies) And do you believe that the NARTH website is a source of objective scientific information?

A. (William Tam) Well, I believe in what they say.

Q. (David Boies) You thought it was better to get your scientific information about this issue from the NARTH website as opposed to the American Psychological Association. Is that your testimony?

A. (William Tam) Uhm, yeah, I believe in what NARTH says.

Notice that both times, William Tam answered a question of fact with a statement of faith. He knew NARTH was an unreliable source, but he wasn’t looking for reliability. Science and truth were irrelevant, cast aside in favor of someone who would pat him on the back and tell him that pursuing his prejudices was good enough.

He’s not alone in this. By design, campaigns of prejudice are based on the gamble that most people will stop looking for facts if someone backs up their prejudice. That’s why anti-gay industry leaders like NARTH (and in turn, William Tam) rely singularly on extreme statements of emotion and fear.