Sunday, December 21, 2008

"It's the only gum with the breath-freshening power of ham"

Burger King has come out with a cologne. Now I can attract hungry, feral cats anywhere I go. (Maybe I should insert a "pussy" double entendre here? Naw, let's not.)
The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but the way to a woman's heart — according to Burger King — may be through a new meat-scented body spray.

While fast-food chains aren't exactly best known for selling signature fragrances, on Sunday The Home of the Whopper rolled out a men's body spray called Flame by BK. The 5-ml bottles are available for sale in Ricky's stores in New York City and on a dedicated Web site,

If you're salivating for a chance to marinate yourself in flame-broiled flavor, relax: The experience can be yours for just $3.99 — a small price to pay for some seriously mouthwatering mojo.

And if you're thinking "Hey, Burger King isn't exactly sexy", well then, you couldn't be more wrong:

You can see him beckoning you hither at their website.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: This Probably Doesn't Deserve My "Language" Tag Edition

It was common for racists to take anything they could conceivably associate with race and claim that this tenuous connection was certain. Race, for instance, defined not only skin color and other physical features, but also culture, civilization, thoughts, morality (or lack thereof), religion, etc. And for any of these, they also had to demonstrate (at least to their own satisfaction) that that of whites was superior to that of blacks.

So it was with language:
Another important influence came to the blacks through their contact with the English language. The peculiar richness of this speech, the call it institutes upon the mind for contextual thoughts makes it to the savage perhaps the most educative of tongues. It cannot be compassed by any lowly people without a decidedly developing effect. The negro has mastered this language in a very remarkable manner, and without deliberate instruction by any form of schooling, and by so doing has given better proof of his natural capacity than by any other of his accomplishments in this to him very new world. . . .

The struggle of the African with the difficulties of our incompleted [sic], open-structured English speech is one of the most interesting features of his history. His inherited habits of mind framed on a very limited language, where the terms were well tied together and where the thought found in the words a bridge of easy passage, gave him much trouble when he came to employ our speech where the words are like widely separated stepping-stones which require nimble wits in those who use them. It would require a separate essay to deal with this interesting subject, so I can only note a few of the most instructive examples of the devices to which the negroes have resorted in their difficult task. . . . Our verb with its imperfect denotation of time and number gives them at first much trouble; to help themselves they have adopted some new but imperfectly defined tenses; "gwine done," "gone done," "done gone," seem to me to be natural efforts to give clearness to our indices of action, which we are able to supply from our grasp of the context,--a mental habit to which the lower races with difficulty attain. . . .

--From Nathaniel Shaler, "The Nature of the Negro," Arena, Vol. III (December, 1890). Reprinted in I. A. Newby, The Development of Segregationist Thought, pp. 58-59. Ellipses are Newby's.

I also recall reading something about how black languages were inferior because they didn't have many words in them--not enough to properly translate the Bible into. I can't recall who said it, but I think it might have been Charles Carroll.

Intelligence failure = voting for Bush

Once again we find that Bush's assertions that he invaded Iraq on the best intelligence available at the time are shameless, odious lies.
During an interview with the Committee, John Gibson, who served as Director of Speechwriting for Foreign Policy at the National Security Council (NSC), stated that he tried to insert the uranium claim into this speech at the request of Michael Gerson, chief White House speechwriter, and Robert Joseph, the Senior Director for Proliferation Strategy, Counterproliferation, and Homeland Defense at the NSC. According to Mr. Gibson, the CIA rejected the uranium claim because it was "not sufficiently reliable to include it in the speech." Mr. Gibson stated that the CIA "didn't give that blessing," the "CIA was not willing to clear that language," and "[a]t the end of the day, they did not clear it."


According to Ms. Miscik, the CIA's reasons for rejecting the uranium claim "had been conveyed to the NSC counterparts" before the call, and Dr. Rice was "getting on the phone call with that information." Ms. Miscik told Dr. Rice personally that the CIA was "recommending that it be taken out." She also said "[i]t turned out to be a relatively short phone call" because "we both knew what the issues were and therefore were able to get to a very easy resolution of it."


Once again the Bush administration reveals it has something else in common with the Muslim extremists it supposedly hates

Remember that U.N. resolution that the Vatican refused to be a part of? The one that called on nations to decriminalize homosexuality?

Well, apparently the U.S. is of the same opinion as the Vatican:
Alone among major Western nations, the United States has refused to sign a declaration presented Thursday at the United Nations calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.


According to some of the declaration's backers, U.S. officials expressed concern in private talks that some parts of the declaration might be problematic in committing the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction.

The hell? How is our twisted notion of federalism an issue? Because several states don't have measures banning discrimination against sexual orientation (nor does the federal government, for that matter), that somehow means that we need to accept other countries throwing gays in jail or slaughtering them? I can't even fathom how this makes sense.
Carolyn Vadino, a spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., stressed that the U.S. — despite its unwillingness to sign — condemned any human-rights violations related to sexual orientation.

Except that it apparently doesn't. It seems just fine with letting countries sentence people to death or imprison them based on their sexual orientation. Or is that just not a human-rights violation? It's not like gays have rights or are human or anything.

"Woo! Hooray for science!"

The Obama administration might get it:
In a sign that President-elect Barack Obama intends to elevate science to greater prominence, John P. Holdren, a Harvard physicist widely recognized for his leadership on energy policy and climate change, will be appointed White House science adviser this weekend, the Globe confirmed yesterday.


The news, coming in the same week as Nobel laureate physicist Steven Chu's appointment as secretary of energy, was heartening for the scientific community.

Many scientists have objected to the Bush administration's policies, from restrictions on embryonic stem cell research to the pace of action on climate change.

"I think they'll be restoring the role of science in the federal establishment," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Cambridge-based advocacy organization. "We've got a bunch of people across the [new] administration who get it."

In 2004, Holdren joined other prominent scientists to sign a letter accusing the Bush administration of undermining and censoring scientists.

"When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions," the letter said.

Holdren, who was an adviser to the Obama campaign and a member of a scientific advisory committee to President Bill Clinton, is a specialist on energy, climate change, and nuclear proliferation.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recognizing reality is un-American

I'm pretty sure that's what Dobbs is trying to say:
No matter what the fearmongers tell you, however, we are not -- and I've said it, and I've said it, and I've said it -- we're not going to fall into recession into this -- in this country. We are going to probably go through one of the most painful recessions in our country's modern history, but we are not going to fall in depression, and you and I and all independent thinkers have got to keep our heads up, our eyes clear, avoid the nonsense and the herds, and deal with reality as it comes at us. That's what made this country great. It's what will maintain its greatness, and that is you and I sticking to our nation's founding ideals, and making certain that we are "can do" in our outlook, and not just going along with the crowd and the nonsense.

Ah, yes, the ostrich theory of economics. As long as we blind ourselves to any problems, we can't fail!
Well, you know, we're all concerned. We're all worried. Anyone paying attention is concerned and worried, but are you scared? Are you afraid? No. That's un-American.

Is it now? Somebody ought to tell the Republicans that so they can stop with their fear-mongering.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Social Stigma Edition

I couldn't come up with any better title. Anywho, a few days ago Greg Laden blogged about a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled "How social status shapes race". The abstract mentions,
We show that racial perceptions are fluid; how individuals perceive their own race and how they are perceived by others depends in part on their social position. Using longitudinal data from a representative sample of Americans, we find that individuals who are unemployed, incarcerated, or impoverished are more likely to be seen and identify as black and less likely to be seen and identify as white, regardless of how they were classified or identified previously. This is consistent with the view that race is not a fixed individual attribute, but rather a changeable marker of status.

Though it's a new paper, this certainly isn't news--at least, the idea that "how they are perceived by others depends in part on their social position" isn't new. We've known that since before the Civil War. In fact, it was the basis of court decisions trying to decide people's race. From an 1835 South Carolina case, State v. Cantey:
We cannot say what admixture of negro blood will make a colored person, and by a jury one may be found a colored person while another of the same degree may be declared a white man. In general, it is very desirable that rules of law should be certain and precise; but it is not always practicable, nor is it practicable in this instance, nor do I know that it is desirable. The status of the individual is not to be determined solely by the distinct and visible mixture of negro blood, but by reputation, by his reception into society, and his having commonly exercised the privileges of a white man. But his admission to these privileges, regulated by the public opinion of the community in which he lives, will very much depend on his own character and conduct; and it may be well and proper that a man of worth, honesty, industry, and respectability, should have the rank of a white man, while a vagabond of the same degree of blood should be confined to the inferior caste. It will be a stimulus to the good conduct of these persons, and security for their fidelity as citizens.

Emphasis mine.

A 1914 case, Tucker v. Blease, quoted the above section and gave it this introduction:
The law recognizes that there is a social element, arising from racial instinct, to be taken into consideration between those with and those without negro blood. The statutes and provisions of the Constitution hereinbefore quoted show that the law not only recognizes a classification, but makes it mandatory, and provides a penalty for failure to observe the laws in this respect, in the instances therein mentioned. The decisions prior to the abolition of slavery show that the classification between white and colored persons did not depend upon the extent of the mixed blood.

Again, emphasis mine.

So a person's legal race, which was supposedly defined in terms of blood and ancestry, was recognized to actually be based (in part at least) on social status. Two people with the same amount of black "blood" could be legally assigned to different races based on whether they exhibited particular good traits or were considered to be in good social standing, his "reception into society."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Separate but equal isn't equal? Who would've thought it!

New Jersey's Civil Union Review Commission has released their final report, entitled "Consequences of New Jersey's Civil Union Law." The result?
In its final report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, the state's Civil Union Review Commission concluded that the state's two-year-old civil union law doesn't do enough to give gay couples the same protections as heterosexual married couples.

"This commission finds that the separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children," the report says. The findings of the commission's 13 members were unanimous.

The commission found that the rights afforded to those in civil unions were not always well understood, and that allowing gay couples to marry would alleviate the problem. For example, there have been instances when people in civil unions have been prevented from visiting their partners in hospitals and making medical decisions on their behalf, the commission found.

It's not like we couldn't have seen that coming. Still, opponents of gay marriage were outraged.
Gay marriage opponents criticized the report, saying the commission was made up of members who favored gay marriage and calling its recommendations predetermined.

"If you look at the membership of that committee, they're all advocates. It's an advocacy group," Pat Brannigan, the executive director of the anti-gay-marriage New Jersey Catholic Conference, said Tuesday. "It doesn't mean that that is the conclusion that society and people in general will come to."

People advocating for gay marriage after finding that civil unions don't work? People advocating for equal treatment of all their citizens? What a nefarious, conspiratorial plot! I'm sure they concocted all the evidence that civil unions aren't equal to marriage, and since only 10 of the people testifying before or writing letters to the committee were opposed to gay marriage, clearly the committee must have stifled all the opposing views that Brannigan assures us are there! Is there no evil to which proponents of equality won't stoop?

Oh wait... no. The committee
specifically solicited the testimony of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, the New Jersey Catholic Conference, the League of American Families and PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays). Of these groups, only the New Jersey Catholic Conference provided testimony in response to the invitation.

The report is available here (click on the graphic at the top--I overlooked it at first).

Skipping to the happy ending, the unanimous recommendations are these:
(1) The Legislature and Governor amend the law to allow same-sex couples to marry;

(2) The law be enacted expeditiously because any delay in marriage equality will harm all the people of New Jersey; and

(3) The Domestic Partnership Act should not be repealed, because it provides important protections to committed partners age 62 and older.

The opening section gives an illustration of some of the troubles involved with civil unions: one woman had trouble getting medical information on her partner while she was in the emergency room, because the doctor "did not understand, and hadn't heard of civil unions before". But, one might argue, wouldn't that go away with time? Surely people will come to understand civil unions and that they are "equal" to marriage. Probably not. The report points out that Vermont, which has had a civil union for eight years now, still has the same problem as New Jersey with people not treating civil unions as equal to marriage. So, they conclude, it's unlikely that this will lessen with time. As they quote later, "Time cannot and does not mend the inequality inherent in the two separate institutions."

But even if it would become truly equal (at least legally) with time, that still wouldn't be good enough. Echoing what we've been saying all along and agreeing with my pithy title, they say:
Even if, given enough time, civil unions are understood to provide rights and responsibilities equivalent to those provided in marriage, they send a message to the public: same-sex couples are not equal to opposite-sex married couples in the eyes of the law, that they are "not good enough" to warrant true equality.

This is the same message that racial segregation laws wrongfully sent. Separate treatment was wrong then and it is just as wrong now.

Bravo! This isn't hypothetical, either. The commission cites "mental health experts" who have demonstrated "the significant psychological damage caused by not recognizing marriage for same-sex couples." Treating certain people as inferior and not good as the rest of the population has damaging consequences. That was true 54 years ago in Brown v. Board of Education, and it's true today. As one portion of testimony put it,
The socially sanctioned right of gay marriage which is qualitatively different than civil unions, the right to choose one's spouse, has a positive impact on self-esteem, sense of being validated in the eyes of the community, and on the internalization of ideas of commitment and responsibility to others, something that is sorely needed in our society currently.

In addition to psychological damage caused by being treated separately, there are tangible inequalities involved here (which of course only exacerbates the psychological damage from being discriminated against). For instance, even though 20 months have passed since this, insurers haven't gotten any better about offering insurance to people in civil unions. In fact, it may have gotten worse:
Since its first report, the Commission has gathered evidence that employers' invocation of ERISA has not lessened with the passage of time. If anything, the worsening economy seems to be encouraging employers to cut corners wherever they can, with equality for LGBT employees and their same-sex partners being among the casualties.

ERISA, the federal Employee Retirement Insurance Security Act, says that self-insured "companies which create their own insurance plans but may hire outside agencies to administer them are governed by federal law rather than state law." That means many of these companies invoke DOMA to deny benefits and insurance to people in civil unions. So one could logically ask, would allowing gay marriage in New Jersey change this? The committee says yes:
The Commission concludes that a marriage law would provide that remedy, despite the existence of a federal prohibition on the recognition of same-sex relationships.

As the Commission reported in its interim report, the marriage law in Massachusetts has led many employers in that state to ignore the ERISA loophole and provide equal benefits to same-sex wives or husbands. The Massachusetts experience dispels any notion that so long as federal law does not recognize same-sex relationships, it would make no difference whether a particular state uses the term "marriage" or "civil union" to describe a same-sex couple's relationship. In fact, the word "marriage" can and does make a difference to employers, even within the constraints of federal law.

The report cites one person's testimony:
Adding civil union partners is virtually impossible to do at this time in this climate at the bargaining table. However, we already have benefits for married couples in our agreements. The key here, as is often in contracts, as you all know, is the language. Simply calling the joining of two people 'marriage' rather than 'civil unions' means we don't have to negotiate or rewrite the contract language....

The fact is that just changing the language 'civil union' to 'marriage' changes the situation, because everyone agrees that married people and their spouses are entitled to health insurance and pensions. It's already in our agreements.

Wanting something called "marriage" rather than "civil union" is not just nitpicking on our part. People understand marriage--it has huge cultural and social significance. This is not the case with civil unions. The Supreme Court for Connecticut recognized this:
Although marriage and civil unions do embody the same legal rights under our law, they are by no means 'equal.' As we have explained, the former is an institution of transcendent historical, cultural and social significance, whereas the
latter most surely is not.

And of course, since most people don't really understand the concept of civil unions, they aren't going to treat them the same even though the law says they should, as was demonstrated by the woman who couldn't get information on her partner while she was in the ER. Nor was this an isolated incident:
In another case, a witness from Plainfield testified that when he was admitted to a New Jersey hospital for emergency surgery in April 2007, his civil union partner was not allowed to see him, and was removed by hospital security.

The report concludes this section,
This testimony demonstrates that the civil union law has resulted in economic, medical and psychological harm for a number of same-sex couples and their children. This Commission believes that as long as New Jersey maintains two separate systems to recognize the unions of same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples and their children will face a challenge in receiving equal treatment. Under a dual system, these and future families will suffer economic, medical and psychological harm.

The Commission finds that even if all employers in New Jersey were suddenly to provide benefits to employees in civil unions equal to the benefits provided to married employees - an unlikely proposition in itself - such compliance would not cure much of the inequality perpetuated by the civil union law.

Further, even if some employers were to continue to invoke the federal ERISA loophole under a prospective marriage statute - notwithstanding the evidence from Massachusetts that fewer employers would invoke that loophole - a marriage statute would cure much of the harm perpetuated by the existing civil union law as reflected in the collected testimony.

The report also includes a section on the financial impact allowing gay marriage might have in New Jersey. While I don't disagree, and it might sway some people who otherwise would be unmoved (especially with today's economy), it feels degrading to have an issue of civil rights, equal treatment, and justice for all boil down to "it's profitable." Still, the legislature set this as one of their tasks, so I can't hold it against the committee. Actually, they pointed out something that I hadn't considered. I've heard some people argue against gay marriage because giving benefits to gay couples will raise expenses for the state, so it'll cost more, and that would result in higher taxes. But the report points out that just letting gays marry would probably be cheaper than setting up civil unions:
[M]arriage may lead to reduced costs in some instances. Joseph A. Komosinski, the State Registrar of Vital Statistics, testified that money would be saved because there would be no need to print alternative forms, and there would be one standard procedure for the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Dr. Gabel-Brett noted:
In these financial times, ... why or how can we waste state money, taxpayers' money, making forms, making changes, making a separate structure that has to be administered, for no other purpose than to set people apart?....

Every time you change a state program, whatever it might be, some benefit, some program, some eligibility requirement, you are going to have to change it in two parallel structures. You are going to have to spend more time sending out notices, changing websites, changing computer forms. So it is not going to end."

Finally, the report gets to a section examining the opposition to gay marriage. In response to the old "marriage must be between a man and a woman", they raise this point:
The Commission believes that it is precisely because marriage has a meaning in society beyond the legal concept of marriage that it should be offered to same-sex couples. The Commission has heard time and again how permitting same-sex couples to marry would make a qualitative difference in their lives and the lives of their families and has heard no testimony that allowing these couples to marry would harm opposite-sex couples who are married.


Via Pam's House Blend.

Uh, wow

Matt Yglesias highlights a single paragraph of an editorial in the Wall Street Journal:
What Democrats have done, in essence, is to insert an unelected judiciary into the wartime chain of command. As Mr. Kelly notes, this is producing a "lack of accountability" and "the lack of transparency into the inner workings of the FISA process." If some faceless FISA judge denies a surveillance request from Mr. Kelly and New Yorkers die as a result, that judge will answer to no one. Under current FISA rules, we won't even know who that judge is.

I'm not sure I can even count the number of levels on which this is wrong or bone-headed. It's saying that unelected judges are bad in wartime, apparently unaware that the military itself is not elected. The people setting these wiretaps are unelected and faceless, and now so are their victims, since they don't even have to say who they're spying on. None of that seems to bother them.

And the idea that having judicial oversight--any judicial oversight, no matter how watered down now--means a "lack of accountability" is just... it's mind-boggling. Apparently letting unknown and unaccountable people spy on anyone they want for no reason whatsoever leads to more accountability and transparency than having a judge oversee requests to spy on people. How the hell could this possibly make any sense to anyone?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Iowa case

I had thought about live-blogging the oral arguments before the Iowa Supreme Court today, but that didn't pan out--I had some errands to do around that time. Fortunately, KatRose at Pam's House Blend did it herself. And for anyone interested, there's video of the proceedings here.

This article kinda suggests that some of the justices (they don't really indicate how many) were hostile to the idea of same-sex marriage, because, they queried, wouldn't it lead to polygamy?
An attorney for six same-sex Iowa couples insisted that allowing gay marriage would not open the door to polygamous marriages, despite challenges from several Iowa Supreme Court justices.

Dennis Johnson, a Des Moines lawyer, said marriage would remain an institution of two people even if the high court allowed gay couples to wed. The assertion came in response to questions from several justices that gay marriage would open the door to other types of marriage.

"How do you stop?" asked Justice Mark Cady. "How do you stop more than two people from getting married?"

Johnson said a marriage "has always been well defined within the concept of two people," and that polygamy would change its historic meaning. Same-sex couples, by contrast, should have the right to marry because they meet all other requirements to wed, he said.

"This right is a time-honored right and tradition in this society," Johnson said. "What you see is that people have always had a fundamental right to marry. The court has made it clear. With more than two people, you would change the meaning of marriage."

Oh, swell. Looks like he botched it; that'll just lend strength to the people saying the exact same thing about same-sex marriage. And no, marriage has not "always been well defined within the concept of two people", you twit! Polygamy was the norm in most cultures on earth!

In my view, there's a fairly simple distinction (at least legally) between same-sex marriage and polygamy. Banning same-sex marriage means that gays can't get married at all, forever. This is not the case with banning polygamy--it's absurd to say that you're barred from the fundamental right to marry someone when the bar is that you're already married. It's the difference between a store giving out coupons that stipulate one per person per visit, and that store barring blacks from buying there at all.

Not to say that I'm really opposed to polygamy, mind. Frankly, I think the whole slippery-slope argument is absurd. If there's a reason to ban polygamy, then that should stand whether or not gays can get married. If there's no such reason, then why should it matter if gay marriage leads to polygamy?

Anywho. The state seemed mostly to be arguing a couple things: (1) that this shouldn't be decided by the courts--that is, they should defer to the legislature. Why, I can't understand (well, the legal rationale for that, I can't understand). The legislature isn't allowed to pass laws that contravene the constitution, no matter whether or not marriage laws are generally their jurisdiction or whether people really, really, hate gay marriage. (2) They were claiming that marriage is about procreation (snicker) and if gays can get married, then soon people won't believe that marriage is about procreation, and then they won't get married at all!
"We're saying that, after a generation, maybe two, people will see or could come to believe that if it's not necessary to have its biological father, or its biological mother, then what's the need for getting married?" Kuhle said.


Kuhle said that state support of same-sex marriage would teach future generations that marriage is no longer about procreation, one of its historic tenets.

How that works, I don't know. Most people don't enter into a marriage thinking "this is all about procreation" anyways. We let infertile couples and opposite-sex couples who have no intention of having children marry. And yet people still get married. Letting gays get married will just lead to more people marrying.

And if you're worried that parents should be married, for the kids' sakes, then let gay people get married! Gay people have children--the couples involved in this case have children! How can you say that you want them to be raised in a household with a married couple when you're fighting against that very thing!?

And what about foster homes or adoptive parents? Eh? Are they going to prevent people from marrying because they're not the biological mother and/or father? This is all absurd!

And (3), they were arguing that the trial court erred by not allowing the state to field some expert witnesses. They may have a point here. Or, on the other hand, the judge may have been doing them a favor, not listening to some of their expert witnesses. In fact, according to KatRose's transcript, the witnesses were "3 religion experts, an economist and one historian". Why any of their specialties should be needed, I've no idea... well, maybe the historian.

Also, according to her transcript, the attorney for the state at one point said (paraphrasing): "How can a woman teach a boy to be a man? How can a man teach a girl to be a woman?"

So we should take away the sons of single mothers, and the daughters of single husbands? Bah.

I should hope the court could see through all this vapid nonsense, but so few courts have before. Here's hoping.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Gay marriage case coming up

In Iowa:
The gay marriage debate moves to the Midwest this week as the Iowa Supreme Court hears arguments in a challenge to the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

If the high court rules in favor of the half dozen gay couples who filed the lawsuit, it would make Iowa the fourth state behind Massachusetts, California and Connecticut to uphold the right of same-sex couples to legally marry. In California, however, voters have negated the courts by amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage.

The Iowa case has been moving through the legal system for more than three years, and it could take a year or more for the state Supreme Court to issue a ruling after hearing oral arguments Tuesday morning.

You may recall that District Judge Robert Hanson found the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional last year, which seems reasonable enough to me. No idea what the Iowa Supreme Court will think.

Anyways, you can listen to a live stream of the oral arguments tomorrow, 10 a.m. Iowa time, if you are so inclined.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Double standards becoming a two-edged sword

Or something like that.

I have occasionally mused that a working definition of homophobia would be "pretending that every word you just said does not apply equally well to straight people." Double standards, of course, are not unique to homophobia. Racists were full of them: if whites didn't cry from pain, they were stoic, whereas if blacks didn't cry from pain, they didn't actually feel pain; if blacks committed suicide, they would be declared insane, but if whites commit suicide they're just curious; if whites slaughter people, they're bold and noble conquerors, but if blacks kill other people, they're barbaric savages; etc.

So it was with relish that I read part of the book Challenge to the Court: Social Scientists and the Defense of Segregation, 1954-1966 by historian I. A. Newby. Here Newby is discussing the book Race and Reason, A Yankee View by Carleton Putnam, which was widely and enthusiastically received by racists and segregationists (and is in fact still being sold by such organizations as American Renaissance). Newby's book was published originally in 1967, six years after Race and Reason.
One test of the cogency of Putnam's logic is to take his admonitions concerning Negroes and apply them to segregationists in Mississippi, among whom Race and Reason was well received. "The capacity for a free civilization involves many attributes," Putnam wrote, "self-control (which, among other things, includes resistance to emotionalism), self-reliance, self-responsibility, willingness to bear the burdens of others without casting upon others the burdens on should bear one's self, willingness both to accept the verdict of majorities and to concede the rights of minorities, willingness to obey the law even when it hurts, willingness to support rather than to raid a treasury, emphasis upon the importance of the individual." Judging by the recent history of race relations in Mississippi, most Mississippi segregationists are not notable for "self-control" or "resistance to emotionalism." Nor is "self-reliance, self-responsibility, [and] willingness to bear the burdens of others without casting upon others the burdens one should bear one's self" the best way to describe their exploitation of Negroes. The reference to a "willingness . . . to accept the verdict of majorities and to concede the rights of minorities" is even more to the point. Mississippi segregationists have shown little concern for the rights of the Negro minority in their midst, nor are they willing to accept "the verdict of majorities" in those areas of the state where Negroes outnumber whites. Like John C. Calhoun before him, Putnam forgot that there are several kinds of majorities and minorities, and to be valid a defense of majority rights must be applicable to all majorities and consistent with the rights of all minorities. The admonition to Negroes "to obey the law even when it hurts" is particularly ironic in view of Putnam's defense of Mississippi, a state which has systematically subverted or ignored not only the Brown decision but the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments and the civil rights acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1965. Finally, it should be noted (according to the Library of Congress Legislative Reference Service) that for every $218 paid by Mississippians in federal taxes, the federal government spent $327 in the state in 1959-61. And of every $1,000 in Mississippi income, $286 came from the federal government. It would seem that Mississippians do not always live up to Putnam's admonitions to support rather than raid the public treasury.

A great take-down.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Dead Racist Blogging: Blaming the Victim Edition

Plessy v. Ferguson allowed "separate but equal" to remain the law of the land, and so for the decades that followed we had segregated facilities and institutions under the premise that they would provide equal comfort and utility to each race. This of course was a fantasy--facilities for blacks were regularly inferior to those for whites. Why did this happen? Let's ask Congressman Frank Clark of Florida:
While on this phase of the subject, Mr. Speaker, I desire to refer to the unsupported, bald declarations of gentlemen that negroes are not supplied with accommodations equal to those furnished to white people upon railroads in the South. Why gentlemen will persist in these statements I can not understand. Let me suggest something here that in all probability these gentlemen have never thought of. On our Florida railroads--and I presume it is the same in other Southern states--the cars furnished for negro passengers are just as good as those furnished for white passengers. I am free to admit, however, that they do not long remain as good, as comfortable, and as clean as do those set apart for white passengers. You will not have to search long for the reason of this change. The average negro is perfectly happy when he finds himself eating a watermelon or going on a railroad excursion. The railroad companies in the South cater to this weakness of the negro for riding on trains, and scarcely a week passes in the summer time that a negro excursion is not "pulled off" in every neighborhood. They flock to these excursion trains by thousands and of course the cars set apart for the negroes on the regular passenger trains are used for negro excursions.

Imagine a nice, new passenger coach, packed with dirty, greasy, filthy negroes, down South, in midsummer, and you can readily understand why that car does not long remain as good, as clean, and as desirable as a similar car occupied exclusively by white travelers. It is said of Sam Jones, the great Georgia revivalist, that on one occasion a certain Northern gentleman asked him if there was very much difference in the instincts of a "nigger" and a white man. Sam replied that he didn't know as to that, but of one thing he was absolutely sure, and that was that there was a vast difference in the "out stinks" of the two.

--Quoted in I. A. Newby, The Development of Segregationist Thought, p. 94

It was commonplace for whites to blame blacks for the discriminations whites inflicted on them, but it was rarely so blatant and so unabashedly declared.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Any bets on whether the Supreme Court will now reverse their decision?

Recall last year, when the Supreme Court ruled that women must be protected from making decisions, based on... well, nothing at all?
"While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained," Justice Kennedy wrote, alluding to the brief. "Severe depression and loss of esteem can follow."

Given those stakes, the justice argued, "The state has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed."

No reliable data, but we're gonna rely on this fantasy to write the laws anyways. Well done.

Well, once again, we find that there's no reliable data to support the existence of post-abortion depression.
No high-quality study done to date can document that having an abortion causes psychological distress, or a "post-abortion syndrome," and efforts to show it does occur appear to be politically motivated, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

A team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reviewed 21 studies involving more than 150,000 women and found the high-quality studies showed no significant differences in long-term mental health between women who choose to abort a pregnancy and others.

"The best research does not support the existence of a 'post-abortion syndrome' similar to post-traumatic stress disorder," Dr. Robert Blum, who led the study published in the journal Contraception, said in a statement.

"Based on the best available evidence, emotional harm should not be a factor in abortion policy. If the goal is to help women, program and policy decisions should not distort science to advance political agendas," added Vignetta Charles, a researcher and doctoral student at Johns Hopkins who worked on the study.

Of course, if the goal isn't to help women, then everything makes sense.

Via Feministing.

A Christmas tradition I can get behind

Or maybe I shouldn't be behind it.
In Catalonia, as well as in the rest of Spain and in most of Italy and Southern France, traditional Christmas decorations consist of a large model of the city of Bethlehem, similar to the Nativity scenes of the English-speaking world but encompassing the entire city rather than just the typical manger scene. The caganer is a particular feature of modern Catalan nativity scenes, and is also found in other parts of Spain and southwestern Europe, including Salamanca, Murcia (cagones), Naples (cacone or pastore che caca) and Portugal (cagöes). Accompanying Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Shepherds and company, the caganer is often tucked away in a corner of the model, typically nowhere near the manger scene. There is a good reason for his obscure position in the display, for "caganer" translates from Catalan to English as "pooper", and that is exactly what this little statue is doing — defecating.

Insert South Park reference here.

Via Pandagon, who takes glee in the fact that Bill Donohue is apoplectic over these little shitter boys.

It was bound to happen

Representative Ros-Lehtinen received a phone call from President-Elect Barack Obama. And hung up on him.
When President-elect Barack Obama called Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen at her South Florida district office Wednesday, she hung up on him.

"I thought: 'Why would Obama want to call a little slug on the planet like me?' " Ros-Lehtinen said.

A short time later, Rahm Emanuel, Obama's designated chief of staff, called. Ros-Lehtinen hung up on him, too.

"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me," Ros-Lehtinen said. "They got Fidel Castro to go along. They've gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be punked'."


A man, who Ros-Lehtinen said sounded like Obama, got on the line and congratulated her on her reelection and said he was looking forward to working with her as the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee.

The conversation lasted just a minute when Ros-Lehtinen cut Obama off, telling him she wasn't falling for the hoax and that he was a better impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live.

Then Emanuel called, and she hung up on him. It finally took Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to persuade Ros-Lehtinen that the president-elect indeed wanted to talk to her.

"I asked Howard to tell me a private joke we share about colleagues in the House to make sure it really was him," Ros-Lehtinen said. "When he did, I realized it was the real deal."

Ros-Lehtinen said she then told Berman: "I know this sounds very presumptuous, but please tell President-elect Obama he can call me now and I will take his call."


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That's some papal bull right there

France recently has decided to propose a U.N. resolution that would call on governments to de-criminalize homosexuality, which every member of the European Union has signed onto already.

The Vatican, however, objects. Because if you can't turn gays into criminals, that discriminates against people who don't want gay marriage.
Archbishop Celestino Migliore said the Vatican opposed the resolution because it would "add new categories of those protected from discrimination" and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.

"If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations," Migliore said. "For example, states which do not recognise same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an object of pressure," Migliore said.


Human rights groups say homosexuality is still punishable by law in more than 85 countries and by death in a number of them, including Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said "no-one wants the death penalty or jail or fines for homosexuals" but defended Migliore's comments, adding that the Vatican was in the majority on the issue.

"It's not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone," Lombardi said.

Uh-huh. They "don't want the death penalty or jail or fines" for gay people, but will object strenuously if you suggest doing away with them, and say that their position is correct because more countries than not do criminalize homosexuality.

This isn't about gay marriage. This is about people that hate gay people and want to deny them their rights, their freedoms, and their very lives. The Vatican apparently approves, and any objection to this is somehow discriminating against them.

Via Think Progress.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The gift that keeps on giving

Remember George Rekers? The guy who practically single-handedly destroyed any case Florida might have had for banning gay people from adopting, despite ostensibly being on their side? It turns out this wasn't even the first time he's done that.
The American Civil Liberties Union, in an excerpt of proposed findings to the court, criticized the state of Florida for using Rekers as an expert witness even after he had been discredited in a similar Arkansas case involving gay adoption.

In 2005, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy White ruled that the state did not have justifiable grounds to keep gays from adopting children.

The Arkansas court specifically said that "Dr. Rekers' willingness to prioritize his personal beliefs over his functions as an expert provider of fact rendered his testimony extremely suspect and little, if any, assistance to the court" and "Dr. Rekers' personal agenda caused him to have inconsistent testimony on several issues."

Maybe he really is a sleeper agent on our side?

Probably hate puppies, too

I'm sure this will be shocking to no-one, but it seems that people who oppose gay marriage are not fond of the recent ruling that banning gay people from adopting is, in the court's professional opinion, "completely fucking nuts" (okay, so she just said "irrational", but hey).
The former Miami-Dade County coordinator for the state's gay marriage ban amendment will meet with area pastors Tuesday to voice opposition to a recent court ruling allowing adoption by a gay man.


Advocates for gay rights and foster children praised the ruling while opponents blasted it, calling the ruling an attempt at judicial lawmaking. The state has said it will appeal the ruling.

Do you know why this is? Because these people hate happiness, love, and families.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What the hell was Florida thinking!?

Ed Brayton has posted some excerpts from the court decision, and commenter noncarborundum provided a link to a PDF of the decision. It's a good read, and I'll post lengthy excerpts myself. It really is flabbergasting--I have no idea what Florida was thinking when they got their expert witnesses. Were they just the best the state could get? Probably; there doesn't seem to be any rational basis for banning gay people from adopting, so they have to resort to irrational witnesses to justify it.

Ed already posted the section about the state of the two children when they arrived at the household of their would-be adoptive parents, which is heartbreaking and monstrous. If I had read some of that in a work of fiction I would think the author were laying it on a bit too thick, but this is real--the elder brother, at four years old, would not speak, and was the one responsible for taking care of his four-month old younger brother (evidently because no-one else in their household cared to). So when people insist that children develop best when brought up by their biological mother and father, they are saying that gay parents are automatically worse than that.

But are they? Let's see what horrific neglect and abuses the boys were subjected to in this den on iniquity. Oh, before that, I should note that "Petitioner" is the man petitioning to adopt the boys, "John Doe" (the now eight-year old boy) and "James Does" (his younger half-brother). "Tom Roe, Sr." is the partner of Petitioner, and "Tom Roe, Jr." is his biological son, who's been living with them.
On weekdays, the household wakes up at about 6:30 a.m. Petitioner usually prepares breakfast, permitting each child to assist with an assigned kitchen duty. Each morning, the family eats together without distraction from the television. As each child finishes his breakfast, he puts his dish in the sink and proceeds to the bathroom to brush his teeth and hair. Petitioner and Roe purchased a Ford minivan, which Petitioner jokes was not his dream car, however, to accommodate the family size, is the most feasible. Tom Roe, Jr. is dropped off at school first. Afterwards, Petitioner takes John and James to school, walking them into their classrooms and usually speaking to their respective teachers. In the afternoon, after Petitioner picks the boys up from school, they generally go to the park for tennis lessons. At the conclusion of their lessons, the family heads home for dinner. At mealtime, the family blesses the food together and takes turns sharing the highlights of their day. Phones are not answered and the television is off during dinner. After the children are excused from the table, the older children load the dishwasher.

After dinner, the children spend one hour doing their homework. Although James does
not have homework, he spends time at the table pretending to do homework. John requires more supervision and one-on-one interaction to complete his homework. If a child finishes his homework early, the remaining time is spent reading. After homework is completed, the children are allowed to watch television. At bedtime, the boys retreat to their separate beds. By morning, however, James seems to always find his way into John's bed.

The family attends a non-denominational Christian church and have as pets, a dog, rabbit and kitten. John and James refer to Petitioner and Roe as "papi" and "daddy" respectively. John and James have lived in the same neighborhood, attended the same school, day care and aftercare since their arrival in the Petitioner-Roe home. As a result, each child has created friendships from school and in the neighborhood. John and James are closely bonded to Tom Roe, Jr., and their extended family. The boys consider Petitioner and Roe's parents, brothers and sisters their grandparents, uncles and aunts. The extended family sends the boys gifts for their birthdays and the holidays. Roe's mother, who lives in Tampa, visits the family regularly.

Here we see the nefarious gay agenda revealed: raising their kids, pets, going to church, going to work, taking kids to day care and school, etc. How depraved.

The ruling, after comparing expert testimony on both sides, concluded that same-sex parents are no worse than opposite-sex ones, despite what all the opponents of gay marriage would have you believe.
According to Dr. Lamb, there are three important factors that are predictors of healthy adjustment for children. One well recognized predictor of healthy adjustment is a child's relationship with his parents: a child is more likely to be well adjusted if he has a warm, harmonious relationship with committed, involved, sensitive parents. The second predictor is the relationship between the adults in the child's life. Children are more likely to be adjusted when the relationship between the parents is harmonious and positive. The third widely recognized predictor of adjustment is the resources available to a child. Children tend to adjust and better when they have adequate resources available and children who grow up in less well resourced homes are more likely to have issues with maladjustment. Providing additional insight into the development of the field in this area, Dr. Lamb points out that researchers once believed that traditional families provided the best environment for children. As the research developed, however, the notion was proven to be flawed, because the quality of the parenting itself is more important.

The witness testified that based on his 30 years of research and experience in the field, he can say with certainty that children raised by homosexual parents do not suffer an increased risk of behavioral problems, psychological problems, academic development, gender identity, sexual identity, maladjustment, or interpersonal relationship development.

Dr. Lamb's work is consistent with other studies of same sex parents indicating their
children are not more likely to be maladjusted. As such, pursuant to the witness' testimony the assumption that children raised by gay parents are harmed is not a reliable finding. In fact, it is contrary to the consensus in the field.

This, of course, anyone who really follows the subject would know. I was a little surprised to hear this, but it does make sense:
With regard to social relationships and peer adjustments, Dr. Lamb reports that children raised by gay parents develop social relationships the same as those raised by heterosexual parents. The research shows that children of gay parents are not ostracized and do not experience discrimination any more than children of heterosexual parents. According to the witness, children have always and will continue to tease and bully their peers about their parent's appearance, employment, ethnic background, parenting style, or sexual orientation. A child that
is teased views one reason no less hurtful than another. Therefore, Dr. Lamb concludes that the exclusion of homosexuals from adoption does not shield a child from being teased by his/her peers.

It's true. Children are vicious bastards, and that they're susceptible to teasing or bullying is not something unique to children of same-sex couples.

When the decision gets to discussing the 'expert' witnesses for the state, things get interesting. For starters, Rekers doesn't just have a theology degree, he's an ordained Baptist minister. There were also a number of interesting admissions.
Regarding relationship stability, Dr. Rekers proffered that homosexually behaving individuals have a substantially and significantly larger number of lifetime partners and maintain fewer relationships over a long period of time, partly due to the lack of recognizable legal unions and social support.

So they at least tacitly admitted that their own prejudices against committed monogamous same-sex relationships result in fewer committed monogamous same-sex relationships. And of course they use the fact that there are fewer of these to argue against allowing more of them. How this makes sense to them I don't think I'll ever figure out.
During Dr. Rekers' testimony, attention was drawn to his authorship of a St. Thomas Law Review article entitled "An Empirically Supported Rational Basis for Prohibiting Adoption, Foster Parenting, and Contested Child Custody by Any Person in a Household that Includes a Homosexually-Behaving Member" wherein the doctor heavily cited to the conclusions of a colleague who is sharply criticized as distorting data and was censured and ousted by the American Psychological Association for misreporting evidence regarding homosexual households. Although the American Psychological Association, has concluded that there is no difference between heterosexual and homosexual parenting, Dr. Rekers believes the Association's stance is political and not based on science. Dr. Rekers' much contested and hardly empirical article also cited to journals from authors who were neither psychotherapists nor social scientists.

When a judge is able to point out the deficiencies of your poorly-written article, you might want to reconsider your major.
Dr. Rekers astounded the Court when he testified that he favors removal of any child from a homosexual household, even after placement in that household for ten years, in favor of a heterosexual household. To this Court's further astonishment, the witness hypothesized that such a child would recover from the removal from his family of 10 years after one year in a heterosexual household. The Court finds this testimony to be contrary to science and decades of research in child development.

I shall consider "Dr. Rekers astounded the Court" to be judge-speak for "WTF!?"

The opinion also quotes in footnotes some excerpts from old books that Rekers wrote in his role as a minister. All these, I feel I should note, were from the early '80s (1981 & 1982), so maybe his views evolved some in the last quarter-century? But anyway, they include such titles as The Christian in an Age of Sexual Eclipse:
Within which, Dr. Reker's states, "Non-Christian psychologists often encourage their clients to do form their own values regarding sexual expression. In doing so, they mistakenly assume that they are providing the most appropriate and sensitive counsel. In reality they are tacitly creating an impression that the universe was constructed with no moral law inherent to the system, but God has spoken. God has given us explicit instruction as to what his moral laws are. The psychologist who recommends that a person simply define his own sexual values ends up not being an advocate of human freedom, instead he becomes a revolutionary, attempting to overthrow the moral laws of God. Instead of being helped, the client is therefore led down a fanciful path of alleged morality called, quote, liberation." p. 14;

"An honest scholarly search for the truth about homosexuality should not stop with psychological or medical information alone. Wise professionals should also consider evidence for moral truth as well. The bible teaches that people are foolish if they deny God's reality and live their lives as though he were not there…. What happens when psychologists and psychiatrists search for truth about homosexuality, but close the door to any possibility of information from the creator of the human race? What happens if scholars deliberately discard all moral evidence as irrelevant to their professional judgments? Roman's describes the consequences in suppressing truth revealed by the creator.... Those verses indicate that the existence of God is evident within each person, so psychologists and psychiatrists who proceed as though he does not exist are deliberately suppressing truth. To search for truth about homosexuality in psychology and psychiatry, while ignoring God, will result in futile and foolish speculations." p. 54-56;

Stating, "In my clinical training, as well as my experience as a university psychologist, I've been impressed by the devastating radical changes in sexual roles, which have occurred in America over the past 30 years. In the push and shove of these social changes, many kinds of individual problems have cropped up for men, women and children. Some unresponsive and insensitive husbands have failed to provide their problem masculine leadership in the home. Some women have allowed themselves to be sucked into the resulting vacuum, overstepping a more natural and supportive role in the home. This domestic upheaval has been labeled by many psychologists as the dominant wife syndrome. In other cases I've seen emotional or merely materialistic motives woe many mothers of preschool children out of their home and into the job market. This functional desertion has often caused serious emotional conflicts for their children.... Those who counsel people in distress have to be impressed by the clear correlation between the acceleration deterioration of the family unit, and the major changes that are taking place in our society's conception of the male and female roles. Could it be that the wholesale American abandonment of the God ordained male and female roles has brought upon our families a destructive force that will ultimately disintegrate marriage and family, if not soon reversed. I believe that the family will self destruct in direct proportion to its retreat from the biblically defined male and female roles." p. 12

So he's homophobic, racist (remember this is the same guy who supported banning Native Americans from adopting), and sexist. Bigotry trifecta!

There was also Growing Up Straight: What Every Family Should Know About Homosexuality:
Including chapters entitled, "The Truth About Homosexuality" "The Trap of Homosexuality" "Liberation from Homosexuality" "The Search for Truth About Homosexuality."

Within which Dr. Reker's states, "wise professionals should seek God's answer as well. When scholars disregard divine law, they deliberately suppress truth and result in foolish and futile speculations." p. 54.

"As a psychologist who has counseled scores of homosexuals, I have observed the pain suffered by individual homosexuals who have been manipulated by leaders of the homosexual revolt. Alone the homosexual seizes the deviance of other types of homosexuals, and he can even feel the need to change himself. But the homosexual leaders use the manipulative techniques of classic revolutionary strategies to achieve their own diabolical objectives, to the detriment of the individual suffering the effects of sexual perversion." p. 38.

"Homosexual activists seek to lure our children into a deceptive and destruction fantasy world that ignores the obvious physical, social and moral boundaries of sexual expression. Everything that the gay activists are working for stands diametrically opposed to everything concerned the parents stand for in seeking future family fulfillment for their children. Parents who are more aware of the tactics of homosexual activists will be better prepared to protect their own children, from the ploys of these enemies of normal sexual development." p. 40

And Shaping Your Child's Sexual Identity:
Within which, Dr. Reker's states, "The gay liberationists have taken the deliberate ploy of pressing first for legislation to legalize the sexual behavior between two consenting adults. After they had succeeded in winning the emotional war of soothing the public's queasy feelings about homosexuality activity among adults, the next planned step of the gay liberationists is to press for an elimination of laws of age discrimination, (in the terminology of the rhetoric of revolt). This means that the Gay activists are now beginning to press for the rights of the children to engage in homosexual behavior with adults. This will be their battle to legalize pedophilia!" p. 89.

In a subsequent section the court also quoted from a law review article Rekers wrote:
In homes with a homosexually behaving adult, children are more likely to experience the stress and associated harm of an ill-timed sex education that is not timed to match the psychosexual development needs of the child, but instead exposes the child to information about males engaging in oral sex, and inserting penis' into rectums, at formative ages, when those mental images can become strongly associated with sexual arousal patterns, predisposing the child to developing anxiety about sex, a confused sexual identity, or homosexual behavior. Knowledge of specific abnormal or deviant sexual practices is more safely introduced after the child has had the opportunity to develop a stable and secure gender identity and psychosexual identity.

Given all this, the court rendered its verdict: a judicial "EPIC FAIL".
Dr. Rekers' testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers' beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy.

Having scornfully dismissed Rekers, the opinion turns its searing gaze to the other expert witness for the state, Dr. Schumm--who, I find, apparently co-authored a piece with Rekers:
In another paper that he co-authored with Dr. Rekers concerning the authors' disagreement with homosexual practices, he wrote:
Within the limitations imposed by context, errors in translation and errors of individual interpretation, we prefer to accept the authority of the Bible as the best guide for sexual decision making, as well as for many other areas of life. We consider Scripture to be important, not because of tradition or institutional affiliation, but because after reasoned study, we make the assumption that they contain the wisdom of the Creator regarding the human condition and effective ways of relating to others interpersonally. In particular, we turn to the life of Jesus as a guide for our own value system.

And... oh my god, this is... well, just read:
When reanalyzing studies on outcomes of children raised by gay parents, he found some differences in outcomes as a factor of parental sexual orientation where the original researchers reported no differences (the null hypothesis). He suggests that his reanalyses, mostly unpublished, should be accepted over the analyses of well respected researchers in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Schumm admitted that he applies statistical standards that depart from conventions in the field. In fact, Dr. Cochran and Dr. Lamb testified that Dr. Schumm's statistical re-analyses contained a number of fundamental errors.

So, we've got shoddy methodology in unpublished papers performed by someone who's not a psychologist and distorts statistics "to highlight the truth of the Scripture", that's supposed to override well-done research that has made it into peer-reviewed journals done by actual psychologists. Is it just me, or does the judge sound less than impressed in this passage?

Oh my. And this is rich:
[Schumm] concedes to the possibility that some gay parents may be beneficial to some children. He does so despite his objection to allowing homosexuals in the military due to the ease with which they can have oral sex and his belief that, since homosexuals violate one social norm, they are likely to also violate military rules.

Uh, how does that work? Because gays "violate one social norm"--i.e., people don't like them--they're also criminals? Does this only apply to the military, or to other rules, too? Should we ban them from getting jobs because they'd break rules? Should we just round them up and throw them into the penitentiary because they're likely to violate the law?

All the evidence finally led the judge to conclude, in the section "Summary of Findings of Fact", that gay people and couples are no more likely to be horrible parents than straight ones, that this was supported by hundreds of methodologically-sound, peer-reviewed studies, and that this conclusion is the position of numerous professional institutions, such as Child Welfare League of America. In fact, the judge said outright that it was simply crazy to maintain otherwise:
As a result, based on the robust nature of the evidence available in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise; the best interests of children are not preserved by prohibiting homosexual adoption.

Some of my favorite portions are in the section Conclusions of Law, though:
The challenged statute, in precluding otherwise qualified homosexuals from adopting available children, does not promote the interests of children and in effect, causes harm to the children it is meant to protect. Both the state and federal governments recognize the critical nature of adoption to the well-being of children who cannot be raised by their biological parents. There is no question, the blanket exclusion of gay applicants defeats Florida's goal of providing dependent children a permanent family through adoption. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to meet their needs.

Hear, hear!

And later, when examining whether Florida's reasons for supporting the ban pass the rational basis test, the court finds that they don't:
The Department argues Fla. Stat. §63.042(3) is rationally related to Florida's interest by protecting children from the undesirable realities of the homosexual lifestyle. However, as thoroughly summarized in the Findings of Fact section of this Final Judgment, the foregoing is, frankly, false.

Obviously, in order to be considered rationally related to a governmental interest, the distinctions between individuals may not be based on unsubstantiated assumptions. Based on the statistics, there are no set of facts for which such a stated interest can be reasonably conceived of to justify the legislation. Fortunate for the Department, the government has no obligation to produce evidence to sustain the rationality of the statutory classification. Here, the two witnesses proffered by the Department failed to offer any reasonable, credible evidence to substantiate their beliefs or to justify the legislation. Viewing the statute from this point of view clearly renders it "illogical to the point of irrationality."

...[H]omosexuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders, substance or alcohol abuse or relationship instability than their heterosexual counterparts. Accordingly, such governmental interest does not justify the legislation.

The Department next claims that best interests of children are served by placing them in an adoptive home which minimizes the social stigmatization they may experience. Again applying rational basis review, this Court rejects the Department's attempt to justify the statute by reference to a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children. ... In this regard, the professionals and the major associations now agree there is a well established and accepted consensus in the field that there is no optimal gender combination of parents. As such, the statute is no longer rationally related to serve this interest.

I like it.

It would've been nice if the judge had decided that gays were a suspect class (at one point she mentions that she found California's argument that they were "compelling", but was bound by her state's precedents). On the other hand, it's even nicer that the law was considered on a rational basis level and still overruled. They couldn't even muster that much.



53 years ago today, Rosa Parks' refusal to give up her seat sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She wasn't the first, though she may be the most famous, but this was a truly pivotal moment in American history.

A rare follow-up

Some more articles related to this post.

Race, genes, and illness:
Does a "genetic component" cause a higher rate of premature births among black mothers? Do black people carry certain gene variants that give them weaker hearts? Do Asians have special genes that enable the drug Iressa to fight non-small cell cancer better in their lungs?

Yes, indeed, authors of several recent medical studies claim. More and more, researchers are holding out the hope that genetic differences may finally explain a good part of the troubling health disparities among races. Perhaps then, the reasoning goes, the powerful tools of molecular biology may help solve them.


So far, the claims about race and medical genetics remain disturbingly fuzzy. What's meant by a "genetic component," for instance? The team at Washington University in St. Louis that studied early births accounted for other known variables, such as lack of prenatal care, and found that the higher rate among black women persisted. Based on the trends they saw, the group concluded there were racial differences at the genetic level - despite lack of any data on genes.

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researchers studying heart function had used magnetic resonance imaging to compare heart muscle contractions in Chinese-Americans, whites, Hispanics, and African-Americans. They also pointed to genetic differences as a likely cause. But they hadn't yet looked at any genes, either.

Genes explain race disparity in response to a heart drug:
Doctors in the United States who treat patients with heart failure have long been puzzled by a peculiar observation. Many black patients seem to do just as well if they take a mainstay of therapy, a class of drugs called beta blockers, as if they do not. It is almost as if they were immune to the drugs.

Now researchers at Washington University and the University of Maryland have discovered why: these nonresponsive patients have a slightly altered version of a gene that muscles use to control responses to nerve signals. People with this altered gene are making what amounts to their own version of beta blockers all the time. As many as 40 percent of blacks and 2 percent of whites have the gene variant, the researchers report.

The findings, heart failure specialists say, mean that people with the altered gene might be spared taking what may be, for them, a useless therapy. And since patients with heart failure typically take multiple drugs, which can interact and cause side effects like fatigue, getting rid of a drug that is not helping can be a huge benefit.

Of course, race doesn't exist... somehow.

No! Oh good god, no!

My brother and I (whole family, really) are big fans of zoos. In fact, when I was in England, of all the places I could have gone for a day I chose to go to the London Zoo--that didn't pan out, but it was my first choice instead of, say, Buckingham Palace or Big Ben. We've talked about expanding our repertoire of zoos from the local one to others that are... kinda close. Couple hours away. One of them was the Cincinnati Zoo.

That may not happen now.
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and the Creation Museum have made a joint marketing agreement and are selling "combo tickets" to get into both attractions for one price.

From the Cincinnati Zoo's website (link available from PZ's article):
This holiday season, save more by visiting two of the areas fantastic attractions. Cincinnati Zoo and the Creation Museum. Ticket is valid for one day regular admission to each attraction plus the holiday events PNC Festival of Lights (Nov. 28-Jan.4) and Bethlehems Blessings featuring a live Nativity scene(Dec 12 Jan. 4)

Save more with our new Combination Attraction Ticket:
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Creation Museum The Creation Museum, located seven miles west of the Cincinnati Airport, presents a walk through history. Designed by a former Universal Studios exhibit director, this state-of-the-art 70,000 square foot museum brings the pages of the Bible to life.

I am truly distraught.

[Edit] Whew! Looks like that's been scuttled. Now I can go there with a clean conscience.