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Perry v. Schwarzenegger: day five summary

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2010

Thanks to liveblogging from Courage Campaign and FireDogLake.

Today began with testimony from Dr. Michael Lamb, Head of the Department of Social and Developmental Psychology at Cambridge University. Michael McGill led the questioning. Dr. Lamb is highly qualified, prolific, and respected in the areas of child development and devolopmental psychology.

In the 1970’s Dr. Lamb began with the assumption that a father-mother household was better. His views changed based on his research. By the 90s this change was accepted in the field.

Articles document conclusively that children raised by gay or lesbian parents are just as likely to be well adjusted as those raised by heterosexual parents. This is based on a great volume of study of children of different ages and further buttressed by results that affect children of broader range of children.

Studies conducted include both convenience samples and representative samples, longitudinal and cross-section. Over 100 studies have been taken. All mental health organizations agree.

Lamb refuted some of the pseudo-scientific claims of Prop 8 proponents, including the use of the term “gender disorientation pathology” in a Ron Prentice email repeating “21 Reasons why Gender Matters” (Perhaps those listed at NARTH). This term is not used in psychology.

Lamb refutes the canard that gays and lesbians are more likely to be child abusers, nor are their children likelier to be gay (though they are likelier to reject sex-stereotypical occupations).

Lamb dismisses Dr. Joe Nicolosi (ex-gay proponent) and his notions that childen of gay couples are going to be emotionally and socially traumatized. He says that adopted and artificially conceived children are as likely to be well adjusted as those raised by natural parents. He says that the only one in the field of child psychology who holds that view is David Blankenhorn.

In cross-examination, David Thompson for Prop 8 has Lamb admit he’s a “committed liberal”. Thompson tried to get Lamb to agree that science and research only give the results that government wants and that there is a vast liberal conspiracy to make scientific results be what the liberals want them to be. He references the East Anglia climate control scandal. This is an insult to anyone with a brain.

Thompson argued that men are cretins (he referenced Homer Simpson) and women are weak little caretakers. Liveblog synopsis:

Women spend more on children than men. Some occupations are specific to genders. Men are more likely to perpetrate sexual abuse than women. Step fathers more likely to molest children, abuse children than women. Molestation is bad for kids. Evidence that men who are married to women drink and gamble. You are not saying that men and women are completely interchangeable.

(My favorite argument so far:) Men can’t breast feed. Breast feeding clearly has benefits for children. (yup, well that settles it, children whose mothers can’t breast feed them should be left out for the wolves.)

Thompson read an article in which Lamb stated that biological parents were more important than involvement in raising the children; it was written in the 1970s. He quoted Lamb stating that it was disconcerting that fathers’ roles were devalued; Lamb was a grad student. Thompson read from Lamb’s The Role of Fatherhood in Childhood Development, 1976 version.

Lamb: Citations are to 1961, two from 1950s, one from 1965. We’ve had a lot of research since that was written. As you’ve pointed out, there have been subsequent editions of this book, that have updated these citations.

Thompson reminds Lamb that he described David Blankenhorn’s book as “most provocative commentary published in 1995″. Lamb said that Blankenhorn thought his review was negative.

Thompson somewhat desperately tried to get Lamb to agree that having both a male and a female in the house is essential to good childhood development. Lamb didn’t play along.

(At this point we discover that a few witnesses for Prop 8 have been withdrawn because of “fear for their personal safety”. But wasn’t that why there is no video recording? Personal fear? Or is it that those witnesses realized that their peers would find out what they had testified through bloggers and knew that they would be mocked and reviled in their professional fields for selling their soul to the cause of discrimination and injustice. After lunch, Boutrous pointed out to the court that the witnesses who were skurrrred of being recognized dropped out after the SCOTUS said they didn’t have to be televised. He said that in pre-trial he predicted they would drop out because they were afraid of what they would have to say during cross-examination.)

Quite a bit of time was taken establishing that children do better in homes with both parents rather than with a single parent. Much emphasis that step-fathers are more likely to sexually abuse than genetic fathers. Lamb continues to point out that they are comparing heterosexuals to heterosexuals.

I get the impression that Thompson is out of his element. At one point he objects that the US Census is not a random sample. Lamb points out that if a sample includes the entire population, it’s better than a random sample. Thompson tries to argue that studies of gay people are faulty because they only study those who identify as gay; he seems not to notice that if we are talking about marriage, there aren’t going to be many non-LGBT-identifying folk who marry a person of the same sex.

After lunch the judge asked Lamb why adopted children seek out their natural parents. Lamb said it was due to a natural curiosity about where they came from and not due to maladjustment. Walker then asked about priest abuse in the Catholic Church. Lamb clarified that it was predominantly heterosexual and that gay abuse occurs at about the same rate as heterosexual sexual abuse.

During Thompson’s efforts to discredit the rather extensive research on the subject, he looks for anything that was not included to suggest that it throws all of the evidence out the window. His stabs include the financial resources of grandparents, the genetic intelect of the children, the educational achievement of grandparents, etc. He tries to sound incredulous that these studies didn’t include these less obvious factors. What comes out in court, however, is the rather extensive number of factors that actually have been considered.

He cites Walter Shum of Kansas State Universite. Lamb dismisses Shum by saying, “I’ve seen it before. It was published in a journal where one has to pay to have it published, so it’s not really considered part of the literature. But I have seen it in past cases.”

(A non-peer reviewed pay-to-get-published article? Gee, where have we seen that before?)

Thompson is trying to get Lamb to agree that only middle class gay and lesbian families were studied. And that the control groups of straight parents in the studies were not necessarily limited to married biological parents.

I’m wondering at the extent of this effort. I assume that is because when Blankenhorn argues that heterosexuals are better – based on his opinion – then Prop 8 will argue that we can just ignore all research whatsoever and go on Blankenhorn’s opinion. It’s just one opinion against another. While that might work well in a media campaign, I wonder if it’s effective strategy to present to a judge.

Further, it appears that Thompson knows far less about the “gotchas” that he wants to drop on Lamb. He appears to have forgotten the first rule of jury testimony, don’t ask a question to which you do not know the answer. He also confused references to studies as being separate studies and seems not to know what meta-analysis is.

Thompson says, “We’re trying to show that optimal way to raise kids is in heterosexual households.”

(Yes, Mr. Thompson, you are trying to show that. Unfortunately for you, the science isn’t behind you.)

In redirect, McGill has Lamb clarify that the largest comparative studies included census data and thus compared gay couples (married and unmarried) with heterosexual couples (married and unmarried) and that gay children did not fare worse.

McGill then plays deposition tape of Dr. Marks, a Prop 8 witness that withdrew “cuz he’s skurrrrred of the cameras”. It seems Marks made a wise decision. In the tape he contradicted himself and ends up – in this clip – undermining his assertion that biological families are preferable.

McGill had Lamb read a portion of his review of Blankenhorn’s book illustrating how it was not favorable.

Lamb concludes by testifying that the field shares his conclusions because of the consistency of the outcome of hundreds of studies. Outliers which are not replicated don’t change conclusions based on cumulative work.

In one final dig about Lamb being a “liberal” and donating to PBS:

McGill: Did the corporation on public broadcasting affect your opinion in this case?

Lamb: No, it did not.

To end the day, Helen Zia, an Asian-American told the story of her life. She talked about discrimination and fear. She spoke of the humiliation of signing up for the first local domestic partnerships in San Francisco at the window where dog licenses were issued. She talked about how marriage changed her life. Her Chinese grandmother finally had a word to describe Leah, her wife. Her in-laws now saw her brother as extended family. She spoke of cruelty and hostility she experienced in Oakland during the Prop 8 election season.

Chu: How does getting married change things.

Zia: In most immediate sense, it was in how our families related to us. When we first got married. We have a niece, 2 years old, only known us Auntie Helen and Auntie Leah. WHen she saw Leah and me, she gave us a big hug, said, Auntie Leah, now you’re really my auntie. I thought, well, you’ve always known her as your auntie. Somehow it made a difference. It made a difference to our parents. When you say you’re a domestic partner. When people say “who’s this person?” I can’t count the number of times who said “Partner in what business.” We’d say “partners in life.” Often it was bewilderment. What business is life, od yo umean life insurance. It’s a matter of how our families relate to people. For me to show up at every event. People ask who’s she. For her 90-something auntie to say, here’s Leah’s friend. She must be a really good friend, suddently there were able to say, Helen is my daughter in law. My mother is an immigrant from China. She dosent’ get waht partner is. I would be around her, I could hear them say, sometimes in Chinese, sometimes in English, that’s Helen’s friend. Then it changed, she would say, this is my daughter-in-law. Whether they got it or not, you don’t insult someone’s wife, you don’t insult someone’s mother. We’re not partners in life or in some business. It changed things on a huge level. Marriage in how it affected our families. Our families related to each other differently. Marraige is joining of two families. My family and Leah’s family now relate to each otheer differently. My brother lived about 5 minutes away from Leah’s father when he was still alive, in those 15 years, they didn’t make an effort. After we were married, Leah’s father would stop by, drop things off. My brother is quite active in HI, Leah’s brother’s wife, my sister in law. Has a sister who runs in same circles. He will now say she’s my in-law.

And this ended the day. The case will resume Tuesday morning. The plaintiffs expect to end testimony on Wednesday.

It is difficult to predict how long it will take the Prop 8 defendants to present their testimony now that four of their six witnesses have dropped out cuz they’re skurrred of the evil homosexual menace that will hunt them down and piddle in their petunia. All, it might be noted, after the SCOTUS gave in to their demands of no televising and no video at all outside of a live-feed to another room inside the same courthouse.

Somehow I think they really wanted to lose the battle over the cameras. As we saw from Dr. Marks’ video deposition, their witnesses may be far more worried about their own inadequacies and dents in their reputation than they are about marauding bands of drag queens and dykes on bikes chanting, “we’re here, we’re queer, you’re a bigot, get used to it” while they try to order a latte at their local Starbucks.

I suspect that they wanted an excuse to drop their witnesses so they could use this to appeal the trial of fact. But the SCOTUS may have unintentionally called their bluff and left them with only the flimsiest of wacky excuses (“we were skurrred of the evil homosexuals in the overflow room; they might hit us with their laptops). And now they only have two witnesses who are willing to be cross-examined.

Comments

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Matt
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

Reading through the blog-script, I had to double-check my calendar to make sure it wasn’t April Fools Day and I wasn’t being pranked by all the reports of Thompson’s questions.

Seriously, did this guy get his law license in a box of Cracker Jacks or something?

Gary
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

The defense is about as scintillating as watching thousands of pots of half-cooked spaghetti slung at a wall, hoping something will stick.

Pliny
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

Matt: It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Thompson is likely relying on his side’s “experts” for his prep….

Patrickometry
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

As I saw while I was volunteering in Maine during the No On 1 fight, no matter how dumb and unreasoned the arguments were on the anti-marriage equality side, it made not one bit of difference. No matter how intelligent and rational and powerful the arguments and advocates on the pro-marriage equality were, gay and straight alike, it made not one iota of difference.

If more people in the country or sitting on the Supreme Court just viscerally hate gay people, no amount of fair argument will sway them. They will take the heel of their boot and step right on us in full public view. It’s the sad awful reality of bigotry when bigotry has the power of the majority.

Donnchadh
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

Those “21 reasons” are an offence to reason and logic. They are either unsupported (2, 14) or are simply circular, not elaborating on a premise but just restating it (sound only if you take it as given that gender matters).

Burr
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

While I’m glad it’s being brought up and the arguments against it fully dissected, isn’t gay parenting really sort of off topic, considering gays are allowed to adopt regardless of their marriage status? I would hope that the argument will eventually turn to why it’s so vitally important for gay parents to be married.

David C.
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

I would hope that the argument will eventually turn to why it’s so vitally important for gay parents to be married.—Burr

Well, interestingly enough, there was some testimony that might have suggested that, but that’s not what this trial is about. It’s about proving that Prop 8 is purely the product of animus towards gay people and there is no rational reason why it should have become law.

Matt
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

It’s about proving that Prop 8 is purely the product of animus towards gay people and there is no rational reason why it should have become law. (David C)

Thompson seems to be doing that for us all by himself with his line of questioning.

Patrick
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

I share Patrickometry’s concern.

The trial has answered one question for me though. I’ve long debated with myself if the religious right leaders actually believed their own rhetoric or if they were just using the rhetoric because they knew they could fool their followers. The trial is showing me that they actually do believe their own rhetoric. I find that amazing.

Ray Foster
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

I can’t express how painfully sweet Helen Zia’s testimony was. Cried my eyes out for about two; couldn’t get it out of my head. For me she absolutely stole the show yesterday. I was so very proud of her and to THINK that the D-I didn’t want her to testify, just imagine what we would have missed.

Dan
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

Thompson doesn’t seem terribly competent, but we don’t want to take anything for granted. The Prop 8 proponents may feel that neither Walker nor the Ninth Circuit is going to support them anyway, so they may as well throw the early trials to make opponents overconfident when the case finally reaches the Supreme Court. Olson and Boies probably wouldn’t fall for that, but it could affect the work of others on their team.

Quo
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

“Lamb refutes the canard that gays and lesbians are more likely to be child abusers, nor are their children likelier to be gay (though they are likelier to reject sex-stereotypical occupations).”

Well isn’t that interesting.

I have a couple of comments.

1. I find it just a little odd that the idea that gays and lesbians are more likely to be child molesters is criticised in the same sentence as the idea that their children are likelier to become gay. If causing one’s children to become gay is not a bad thing (and, presumably, you believe that it isn’t) why discuss it as though it were somehow similar to child molestation?

2. As for children of gay parents not being more likely to become gay, see the Wikipedia article LGBT parenting, which quotes researchers Stacey & Biblarz, who are themselves gay, apparenting asserting otherwise (attempts have been made to remove this information from the article repeatedly over the last few days, but for the moment, it’s still there; the gay activist editor removing it has been blocked, thankfully).

Is it possible that Dr. Lamb is another politically correct scienist distorting the truth in the interests of a preconceived political agenda? I think so.

Burr
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

Hmm actually all Stacey & Biblarz assert in the quote found on Wikipeida is that they are more likely to experiment and consider it, not that they actually are more likely to turn out definitively gay in the end. There’s a slight difference. Not to mention the sample size of 25 is a bit miniscule to really come to any solid conclusions.

Richard Rush
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

This summary of day-five’s proceedings leaves me depressed. Here we are in a federal courtroom with our side seemingly obligated to prove that gays have impeccable credentials in order to qualify for a marriage license.

Meanwhile, an unemployed, crystal-meth-addicted, registered sex offending, robbery-convicted man, and a heretofore unmarried serial-breeding homeless crack-whore can walk into a marriage license bureau and be handed a license after answering a few questions: How old are you?; Are you close blood relatives?; and most importantly, Does one of you have a penis and the other a vagina? That’s it! Okay, I understand that society’s idea is that marriage has the potential to improve people’s lives. But that doesn’t apply to gays who are required to pre-demonstrate impeccable credentials.

Then there is the whole child rearing debate. It’s depressing enough that we are forced into a debate in the court of public opinion on gay’s qualifications to raise children, but to be forced to do it in a federal courtroom is maddening. It seems to me that from a legal standpoint marriage and child-bearing/rearing have nothing to do with each other: Marriage does not require the bearing/raising of children, and the bearing/raising of children does not require marriage.

I’m not doubting Olson’s and Boies’ decisions on legal strategy at all. But it’s still just depressing.

Burr
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

Well in the opening statements they did mention the following:

“In California, even convicted murderers and child abusers enjoy the freedom to marry.”

Eddie89
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

If gay parents make gay children, where did the gay parents get their gayness?

As a gay man myself, I am the product of a heterosexual couple.

I was totally immersed in a straight world growing while growing up. Straight parents, straight friends, straight cartoons, straight television shows, straight movies, straight magazines, straight schools.

And since the age of 4 until today, I know that I’m gay and have always been gay.

Eric in Oakland
January 16th, 2010 | LINK

First, let me say that I am very greatful to Boxturtle, Courage Campaign, and others for providing continuing coverage of this case. I hope that

Quo said “I find it just a little odd that the idea that gays and lesbians are more likely to be child molesters is criticised in the same sentence as the idea that their children are likelier to become gay.”

Why would he find that odd? For the anti-gay crowd the two are often linked and they are both considered equally negative. The same body of evidence strongly proves both superstitions to be definitively wrong. If they are brought up together, why not refute them both?

I have seen that Quo is willing to distort the evidence and cherry pick publications to support his presumptions, but I wish that he would not insult the scientific community in general by assuming they are as unprincipled as he is. If he would educate himself on the scientific method and peer review process before commenting, he would not make such embarassing statements.

Désirée
January 17th, 2010 | LINK

While a lot of this testimony seems odd or irrelevant, we have to remember why this is being done. Our side has to show there was no reason other than animus for passing Prop 8. That is, we must prove there are no other valid reasons for it. The Prop 8 people want to say there are valid reasons – gays molest, straight parents are better, gay marriage would cost the state money, on and on. What Boiles et al. are doing is systematically destroying every possible other reason the Prop 8 people might give for supporting it. It seems self evident to us that these things are untrue but they need to establish these facts to the court.

Eric in Oakland
January 17th, 2010 | LINK

Thanks, Ben. I have read enough of Quo’s comments to know that he believes the pseudoscientific faith-based claims that are being put forth by the Prop-8 crowd. I also suspected that he was a member of the Ex-gay movement.

However, it is hard for me not to feel sorry for people in that position. They are in many ways victims themselves. That is why I consider it so important to expose the misinformation, lies, and hateful motives that abound. I find it profoundly sad that anyone can hate himself so much that he feels the need to pretend to be someone else and to suppress his nature, cutting himself off from love and fulfillment.

This spiritual and psychological abuse has gone unchallenged for far too long. I have hopes that no matter how this case plays out legally, it will go a long way toward exposing the antigay agenda for what it is.

Ben in Oakland
January 17th, 2010 | LINK

I agree with you, eric. I also feel sorry for its victims, On the other hand, quo is as addicted to his self hatred the way a strung out junkie is addicted to smack.

At what point does someone stop destroying his life in order to further someone else’s goals? at what point do they start taking responsibility? My own brother suffered from the same homo-loatho disease.

Quo is obviously reasonably bright, though he has a major blind spot. How much better would his life be if he stopped posting here and started dedicating his life, energy, and intelligence to his own happiness, and the happiness of his brothers and sisters?

Ben in Oakland
January 17th, 2010 | LINK

Quo is not, by the way ex gay, though he is a victim of the mindset. He has admitted to fighting the Gay Menace onSaturday afternoon on his way t the baths on Saturday night.

Neon Genesis
January 18th, 2010 | LINK

Wait, I’m completely lost here. The Prop 8 supporters claim being gay is something you choose but at the same time, gay parents will make their children gay? If gay parents make their children gay, how is that a choice? If they want people to believe that gay parents make their kids gay, didn’t the Prop 8 supporters just disprove their whole argument that being gay is a choice? They can’t have it both ways. Either it’s a choice and gay parents can’t make their kids gay or if they want us to believe gay parents make their kids gay, then it’s not a choice and they should admit the ex-gay movement is a sham.

LukasP
January 18th, 2010 | LINK

Thompson’s own history as a researcher is worth pointing out. He began his analysis with one set of assumptions, and the data showed those assumptions were unfounded. Instead of abandoning the what the research was pointing to, his mindset changed and his further analyses have contributed greatly to the data-basesd understanding of how being raised by same-sex couples affects childrens’ development.

Research contradicting those findings has been dealt with extensively. With the evidence being front-and-center in this case, Prop 8 defenders have to rely on bad data that doesn’t meet the rigorous standards of peer-reviewed and replicable/valid research.

The Prop 8 advocates appear desperate.

BobN
January 18th, 2010 | LINK

All the dumping on men as alcoholic, violent oafs is just going to push more and more women into lesbian marriages, no?

On the plus side, though, there’s all the breast-feeding potential for the kids…

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