Monday, November 17, 2008

I don't know if I'm starting this blog back up or not

But I found that I couldn't resist commenting on this story. It's about a court case going on in Florida now over whether a same-sex couple can adopt a child--that's currently against the law in Florida. But, uh, they're having quite the time trying to justify that. To do so, the state has got two expert witnesses to testify that same-sex parents don't make as good parents, or that the environment is bad for children, or some such similar crap. As the state puts it:
Florida law bans gays from adopting. Valerie J. Martin, a Florida assistant attorney general who defended the statute, said same-sex couples are at far greater risk of many social ills, and "putting children who are already at risk into such a household would increase the stressors that these children already experience as a result of their placement in foster care."

Yeah. Being adopted by a same-sex couple is clearly worse than being in foster care or an orphanage or something. Those naughty, naughty gays.

Of course, at first blush, it looks like the expert witnesses might actually be experts in this area. They have impressive, and almost relevant, credentials in this area, at least:
At trial, the state's defense of the adoption law rested on the shoulders of two scholars -- George A. Rekers, a retired professor from the University of South Carolina, who taught neuropsychiatry and behavioral science, and Walter R. Schumm, an assistant professor of family studies at Kansas State University.

Impressive, no? And they were all saying that a household headed by gays would just be awful:
Rekers and Schumm argued that lawmakers were justified in excluding gay people from adoption because research shows that they are at greater risk of developing a host of impairments that can harm children, such as mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, and the virus that causes AIDS.

Schumm testified that, based on research involving 2,847 children, the children of gay men and lesbians are far more likely to also become gay -- about 19 percent of children raised by gay parents, compared with 4 percent of children with straight parents.

Schumm said he was also concerned by a study that said that 47 percent of gay teenagers had seriously considered suicide, and that 36 percent had attempted it. "If a child is gay, lesbian or bisexual, this is, in some sense, a life-threatening issue," he said.

(As an aside, I'm not sure how that helps his case any... unless he's arguing in favor of banning gay teenagers, which he may be)
Gay men and lesbians have two to four times the likelihood of suffering from major depression, anxiety or substance abuse, based on several national studies, Rekers testified. Gay men, he said, are four times more likely than straight men to attempt suicide.

Depressed people, Rekers said, "are less consistent in their parenting, less positive [and] have higher rates of neglecting child needs." Gay people, he added, "would have less capability of providing the kind of nurturing and secure emotional environment for children."

The lives of gay people can also be stressful to children, Rekers testified. The children may experience teasing and bullying from other children who don't approve of their parents' orientation. And children with gay parents are likely to suffer from repeated separations because gay people are more likely to have multiple failed relationships.

Well, that's all technically true (except the idea that being raised by gay parents makes you almost five times more likely to be gay--I've never seen anything like that before, although it's true that kids of gay couples are more likely to experiment), but it also applies to people other than gays (recall my old definition of homophobia?). Groups that face institutional and society-wide discrimination are going to have more stresses than those that don't, and it wouldn't surprise me if studies indicated they had a higher incidence of mental illness, either. Are you going to ban blacks or other racial minorities, for instance, from adopting?
He said he would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because research shows that they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. "They would tend to hang around each other," Rekers testified. "So the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are . . . doing the same sorts of things."


Well, that's... um... at least he's consistently horrible. Or consistent horribly.

You may also be wondering, since every reputable study shows that same-sex couples make just as good parents as opposite-sex ones, who these guys are that they came to conclusions that no-one else does. Your cynicism shall not go unrewarded!
Under cross-examination, Rekers, who also has a theology degree, acknowledged that he taught and practiced psychology from a Christian perspective, and had written books condemning social science that doesn't recognize "the moral laws of God."

"To search for truth about homosexuality in psychology and psychiatry, while ignoring God, will result in futile and foolish speculations," Rekers wrote in a 1982 book.

In 2003, Schumm also said in a scholarly article that social science could be used to spread the word of God. "With respect to integration of faith and research, I have been trying to use statistics to highlight the truth of the Scripture," he wrote.

One of Gill's experts, Susan D. Cochran, a professor of epidemiology and statistics at UCLA, accused Schumm of cooking some of the data he used to bolster his argument. "This is taught in first-year statistics," Cochran testified. "I was surprised he would do that."

And one of Gill's attorneys, James Esseks, criticized Rekers for relying on the scholarly work of Paul Cameron, chairman of the Family Research Institute, who was dropped from the American Psychological Association in 1983 after he declined to cooperate with an investigation into whether he had distorted research on gay people.

Uh, yeah. If someone relies on Paul Cameron, that's a good indicator that they're completely insane.

I should think this would be a very, very simple case for the judge.


James Hanley said...

I hope you do start it back up. I enjoy your critiques of racists and other bigots.

And thanks for pointing out that this yahoo really did advocate banning Native Americans from adopting. I would never have known otherwise.

trog69 said...

I'm with Mr. Hanley; I plan to follow this story. Though straight, I've help raise two beautiful granddaughters,(No actual blood relation) who had the misfortune of having to wait for their mom and two dads to grow up.The very idea of tearing a happy family apart just because of bigotry really gets me steamed.

California, and my state, Az. can kiss my ass, too.

Skemono said...

I hope you do start it back up. I enjoy your critiques of racists and other bigots.
D'awww. Thanks.

And thanks for pointing out that this yahoo really did advocate banning Native Americans from adopting. I would never have known otherwise.
It's fairly terrible, isn't it? Plus they only came to these conclusions because they're strict Christians who distort their research to come into line with their Biblical views.

The very idea of tearing a happy family apart just because of bigotry really gets me steamed.
I agree. It's monstrous. I'm glad you'll help fight the good fight.