Davenport, IA - According to conservative group, the Family Unity Council (FUC), Jason Michaels, and his best friend Dave Sloan, both nine, represent a growing threat to the stability of the American family. The boys, who enjoy fishing, riding bikes and attending Quad City River Bandit baseball games, are confused by the hostility directed at them. "We're just trying to have a fun summer," said Michaels, "but there are all these people outside my house now yelling and stuff."
FUC has selected the two nine year olds as an example of what is wrong in America. Mildred "Millie" Graham, FUC's executive director explained her group's action as being on the conservative vanguard of preserving the family. "We feel strongly that homosexuality is wrong," said Mrs. Graham, "and believe that preventing children from forming strong relationships with members of their own sex is critical to keep kids safe and straight."
Mrs. Graham, a homemaker who has lived in Davenport her entire life, sees same-sex friendships as the "camel's nose in the tent". "Gay marriage is spreading like a plague across the country," said Graham, "but it is only the natural outcome of friendships between children of the same gender."
To support her claim, Ms. Graham cited research that showed that gay men and lesbians tended to have close relationships with members of their own sex, a root cause in her mind of homosexuality. "They say children learn what they live," observed Graham, "and what are boys learning if their closest friendships are with other boys?"
While logically true, her conclusions are false, says Ben Stone, executive director of the ACLU in Iowa. "Boys play with boys, girls play with girls and boys and girls play together," said Stone, "how play during childhood impacts sexual orientation is unclear, but attempting to stop kids from playing with their friends is a clear infringement of their rights."
If FUC is successful, a child's choice of playmates will be the subject of federal law. "We are working with Senator Charles Grassley to get the Senate to take up this issue as soon as possible," continued Graham, "there are so many ways for young people to be exposed to the temptation of same-sex friendships that need to be stopped ASAP."
Among the temptations that FUC is looking to abolish with their proposed legislation are the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scout, youth sports leagues, single-sex schools, and the Boys and Girls Clubs. "These institutions and activities are breeding grounds for perversion," according to Graham.
Senator Grassley's staff has dismissed FUC's assertions out of hand. One staffer, who asked not to be named, said that Graham and FUC are "out of their minds." "She is nuts," said the staffer, "legislating friendship is about the last thing that any sane person would propose - evidence that these people are insane."
When told of the feedback from the Senator's staff and pushed for details on how FUC was working with the Senator, Mrs. Graham became defensive. "Listen, I have sent those people several letters - and received a response to the first one. Grassley is just a wolf in sheep's clothes - that man is a liberal with a capital L and is obviously a proponent of gay marriage."
For the two boys at the center of FUC's campaign, this is a summer that they would like to forget. "It really stinks to have all of these people following you around all the time," said Sloan, "I mean, its like we just want to have fun and these guys are always in our face telling us that we're going to go to hell or something. I'm pretty tired of the whole thing." When asked if he felt that his friendship with Michaels would lead to romance, Sloan replied with a string of profanity, the essence of which was "no".