Sen. Al Franken Is My New Favorite Senator

Jim Burroway

July 20th, 2011

During today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) eviscerated the testimony of Thomas Minnery, Senior Vice President for Public Policy at Focus on the Family. Minnery was caught red-handed what anti-gay activists reflexively do: they lie about the research:

Franken: Mr Minnery, on page eight of your written testimony, you write, quote “Children living with… their own married, adoptive or biological mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to health care, were less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, and almost never live in poverty compared to children in any other family form.”

You cite a Department of Health and Human Services Study, that I have right here, from December 2010, to support this conclusion. I checked this study out. (Laughter) And I would like to enter it into the record, if I may. And it actually doesn’t say what you said it says. It says that “nuclear families,” not “opposite sex married families” are associated with those positive outcomes. Isn’t it true, Mr Minnery, that a married same-sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?

Minnery: I would think that the study, when it cites “nuclear families,” would mean a family headed by a husband and a wife.

Franken: It doesn’t. [Laughter] The study defines a nuclear family as “one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family.” And I frankly don’t really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) comes in at a photo-finish second in the race for my new favorite Senator:

Leahy: Are those children benefited by saying that in that family, they will not have the same financial benefits that another family, a maried couple of opposite sex would have? Are those children not put at a disadvantaved by denying those same benefits to them, and I’m talking about now a legal marriage under the state laws of the state they live in?

Minnery: No. Without question, those children are certainly better off than having no parents. But…

Leahy: Wait a minute. I don’t understand.  They’d be better off if they had no parents?

Minnery: No, they’re certainly better of than if they had no home headed by parents. But same-sex marriage is a whole lot more than that, Senator.

Leahy: But I’m trying to go specifically to the financial. Are they not disadvantaged by not having the same financial benefits that in a…. an opposite sex family would have?

Minnery: Well, as I say, not knowing the details of which families you are speaking off, certainly those families are better off… children are better off with parents in the home. But what I’m saying…

Leahy: But, I’m talking about… Yes or no, it’s not a trick question. I’m just asking. [Laughter] Please. If you have parents legally married under the laws of the state. One set of parents are entitled to certain financial benefits for their children, the other set of parents are denied those same financial benefits for their children. Are not those children, at least in that aspect of finances, are not those  children of the second family, are they not at a disadvantage, yes or no?

Minnery: That would be yes, as you asked the question narrowly, Senator.

Leahy: Thank you. I was asking it narrowly. I used to have a career where I had to ask questions all the time.


July 20th, 2011

This is EXACTLY why these anti-gay groups want to fight it out with referendums where they can spend millions of dollars to spread lies unchallenged instead of in COURT where they will be forced to tell the truth, back up their claims with facts and subject their arguments to cross examination.

Two minutes with Franken and Leahy show just how quickly, when under OATH, their doomsday arguments fall apart under the mildest of questioning. You can imagine how much more afraid they are of trying to make their case with Boies and Olson ready to pounce!


July 21st, 2011

Love. It.

Ben In Oakland

July 21st, 2011

as you say…

When they have to play with the big boys, the ones with some authority and knowledge, they never win.


July 21st, 2011

Minnery will just go back to his cohorts, crawl up on a cross, and call himself a victim of persecution by socialists.

It is useful for moderates and independents to view this kind of testimony.


July 21st, 2011

I love this.

Ben in Atlanta

July 21st, 2011

Go Al!

Regan DuCasse

July 21st, 2011

Yep, Minnery got offered his hat and it’s high time he went home with it and left the issue of equality where it belongs.

Indeed, under oath, these people don’t have a case. And trying to claim fear of a gay backlash if they appear in such venues is bs on it’s face.

They aren’t the least bit worried about showing up in ALL the courts of public opinion. Especially those they control and rarely allow any dissent.

But a higher court, a higher temple of government that REQUIRES the truth, well…they don’t have the truth with them. Or in them.

Minnery and all of FOTF and FRC can go pound sand. Go find something more important to do. Like, I dunno, make the country aware of the urgency of domestic violence and how THAT threatens families and everything else.

Timothy Kincaid

July 21st, 2011

Zeke et al,

Exactly. In court both sides have the “evidence”. However, sometimes that can still be a squishy result with judges trying to rule on what is the right interpretation of a study.

Which is why I think that Judge Walker is brilliant. All the anti-gays have for support is twisted interpretations of studies and spin. And his requirement of a trial of the facts – with experts rendering specific conclusions on the research based on the data and their profession’s treatment of data – left them with nothing at all.

Priya Lynn

July 21st, 2011

Juan, the dishonesty of Minnery here is typical of the dishonesty the anti-gay side has always used – they pretend a study showing children do well with two heterosexual parents compared their outcomes with the outcomes for same sex parents. That was not the case here and Minnery was trying to claim this study proved same sex parents were inferior – it did no such thing. This is similar to the tactic the anti-gays use when they take studies comparing two parent heterosexual families with single parent families and claim because the study says the two parent family is better that this proves same sex parents are inferior. That’s a lie because no same sex two parent families were compared but yet the anti-gay side uses this deception over and over, falsely claiming decades of such research and hundreds of studies prove something it does not.

Priya Lynn

July 21st, 2011

Juan made the same comment at Truth Wins out under the name of Tom.

Timothy Kincaid

July 21st, 2011

The truth, which Juan seems to think we are missing is this:

1. There are three groups: Nuclear Families, Single/Divorced/Separated etc., and Gay Couples.

2. The study shows that children in the Nuclear group do better than children in the S/D/S group. The entire focus was on nuclear v. S/D/S.

3. Gay couples don’t make up enough of a subpopulation that they would impact the results of whichever group they were included in, be it Nuclear or S/D/S. Further, any conclusion made about Nuclear or S/D/S cannot be automatically attributed to any specific subgroup.

(Illustration: a study of ‘all recent immigrants to the US’ would likely find that ‘all recent immigrants’ are more likely to speak Spanish than non-immigrants. However we cannot then say that because immigrants from Greece are included in the ‘all recent immigrants’ group that therefore they obviously speak Spanish.)

Thus, regardless of what category the researches put gay couples in, this study would still tell us nothing about gay couples. They data for gay couples was not isolated.

4. Minnery wanted to claim that children in gay families do less well than children in straight families. But the research does not support that assertion.

5. So Minnery lied. He included three words not present in the research or supported by the data: “mothers and fathers”.

This effectively changed the working definitions of the groups from “Nuclear Family” to “Heterosexual Nuclear Family” and from “Single/Divorced/Separated etc.” to “gay couples and Single/Divorced/Separated etc.”

With Minnery’s seemingly ‘innocent mistake’, he changed not just the groups, but the entire meaning of the study. Instead of being nuclear v. S/D/S, Minnery presented it as straight v. gay.

6. Minnery got caught in his lie. But he still might have won the war over the impression had it not been for one fact, one important fact: to the extent that gay couples were counted at all, they were counted as part of the Nuclear Group.

So Minnery can’t even claim that his intentional distortion technically was accurate in describing the groups.

It’s not a matter of “this study isn’t really relevant to the issue”, but a matter of “if we apply your logic, this study actually says the opposite of what you claim it says”. Not only were gay couples not counted among the people less successful in child rearing, but he’s left trying to argue that gay couples should be denied marriage rights because, ummm, they are part of the group that had better results. (All of which explains nothing about why the children of gay couples should be denied the protections of marriage rights while the divorced and single people can marry any time they like.)

7. Those who start with the conclusion that gay people are inherently inferior don’t really care about studies or facts. They know what they know and no evidence – no matter how compelling – will effect their opinion.

I suspect Juan falls into this category.

Priya Lynn

July 21st, 2011

Juan is the Kelly/elsa/evil Becky/omar/tom character who was posting earlier until he was on moderation.

When I pointed out on TWO that he had posted here under Juan/Tom said “Priya, how many times do I need to tell you that changing name, email and/or IP address is necessary for me to successfully post? Do you understand that? Does that make sense to you?”

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2011

“Juan’s” comment has been removed for violations to our commets policy.


July 22nd, 2011

Thank you for your detective work, Priya. Really, I mean it. Thank you.

But, “Juan” did prompt BTB to have a meaningful discussion which ironically is very helpful.

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2011

I also want to thank Priya for the good detective work. As for “Juan’s” contribution to the discussion, Juan can freely contribute WHEN Juan/Kelly/elsa/evil Becky/omar/tom has familiarized himself or herself (gender confusion, anyone?) with our comments policy.

Donny D.

July 23rd, 2011

Regan DuCasse wrote:

Minnery and all of FOTF and FRC can go pound sand. Go find something more important to do. Like, I dunno, make the country aware of the urgency of domestic violence and how THAT threatens families and everything else.

That isn’t likely. Political fundamentalists are believers in male supremacy and tend to be strong supporters of using physical violence in the disciplining of children.

Priya Lynn

July 23rd, 2011

Thanks guys : )

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