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Anthropologists on Marriage and the Family
Response to Misrepresentation
Damon Dozier, Director of Public Affairs
American Anthropological Association

© March 07, 2008, AAA


The American Anthropological Association Public Affairs department issued the following letter in response to what it saw as “irresponsible journalism and deliberate misrepresentation of the anthropological community” by the radical-right wing evangelical group, Focus on the Family.

Focus, founded and run by James Dobson, issued a press release, in early March, that was titled “Anthropologists Agree on Traditional Marriage.” In it, Glenn Stanton, an employee of Focus in the Family, who did not identify himself as an anthropologist, claimed “a family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female.” He also stated that there was a clear consensus among anthropologists on this definition.

Dear Sir:

My name is Damon Dozier, and I am the American Anthropological Association (AAA) Director of Public Affairs. In this capacity, I am responsible for the Association’s full range of government relations, media relations, and international affairs programs. Founded in 1902, the AAA — 11,000 members strong — is the world’s largest organization of men and women interested in anthropology. Its purposes are to encourage research, promote the public understanding of anthropology, and foster the use of anthropological information in addressing human problems.

I write to address the gross misrepresentation of the position of the anthropological community on gay marriage in your March 3, 2008 Citizen Link press release, “Anthropologists Agree on Traditional Definition of Marriage.” In the release, Glenn Stanton, an employee of your organization who does not identify himself as an anthropologist, asserts that “a family is a unit that draws from the two types of humanity, male and female.”

In point of fact, the AAA Executive Board issued in 2004, the following statement in response to president Bush’s proposal for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage:

“The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.”
I am alarmed and dismayed at this example of irresponsible journalism and deliberate misrepresentation of the anthropological community. In the future it is my hope that your organization will accurately and honestly convey and communicate the views and interests of the AAA, its 11,000 members, and the social science community at large.


Damon Dozier
Director of Public Affairs
American Anthropological Association
2200 Wilson Blvd., #600, Arlington, VA 22201
703-528-1902


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