Box Turtle Bulletin

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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for September, 2010

Florida Appeals Court: State Adoption Ban Unconstitutional

Jim Burroway

September 22nd, 2010

A Florida appeals court in Miami unanimously ruled that the state’s ban on gays adopting children is unconstitutional.

In the court’s 3-0 decision (PDF: 107KB/42 pages), the judges examined Florida’s adoption law which calls for a case-by-case examination of the prospective adoptive parents in order to determine their individual suitability to become a parent. Single adults are allowed to adopt, HIV-positive are allowed to adopt, and the court noted that even those with a history of child neglect are able to adopt after following a laborious process. There was only one lone exception to Florida’s case-by-case consideration for adoption: “Except for homosexual persons, there is no automatic, categorical exclusion of anyone from consideration for adoption.”

The Court also noted that gay people are not excluded under Florida law from becoming parents by other means. They are allowed to become foster parents, and Florida law also allows guardianship and custody of gay parents over children. The court concluded that “It is difficult to see any rational basis in utilizing homosexual persons as foster parents or guardians on a temporary or permanent basis, while imposing a blanket prohibition on adoption by those same persons.”

The court took particular note of the state’s “expert witnesses” in support of the adoption ban. The court noted that Dr. Walter Schumm, who has defended the research of discredited anti-gay extremist Paul Cameron, was not a psychologist and was “of no assistance to the Department’s argument.” As for George Rekers, who was later revealed to have hired a rentboy to accompany him on a European vacation, the court took special note that Rekers research relied heavily on Cameron’s discredited work. And in particular, the appeals court took special efforts to dissect the Florida Dept. of Children and Families’ extremely selective citing and outright distortions of other social science research, noting that some of the research actually reached conclusions that were the opposite of the Department’s assertions.

The court concluded by declaring that the state’s ban on gays adopting children was a violation of the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution.

So far, we have not heard whether the State intends to appeal the decision to the Florida Supreme Court.

Charlie Crist To Consider Dropping Gay Adoption Lawsuit

Jim Burroway

September 14th, 2010

The Palm Beach Post reports that Florida Governor and Independent candidate for the U.S. Senate Charlie Crist is considering dropping a lawsuit challenging a gay couple’s adoption of two foster children that is now on appeal:

“I think we need to review that. My comments really reflect that it’s better to have more of the judicial branch involved in this process. I think that most who follow the judiciary recognize that what’s in the ‘best interest of the child’ is what should be paramount in these kinds of decisions. That’s what I believe and I think that’s what will be the best for them,” Crist, the independent candidate in the three-way race for U.S. Senate, told reporters.

This comes on the heals of last weekend’s revelation that Gov. Crist will back a large number of LGBT equality measures, excluding marriage.

The lawsuit, re the Adoption of John and James Doe, is now before a state appeals court, which is expected to issue a decision at any time. That lawsuit has already caused no end of grief to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who losthis bid for the GOP’s nomination for U.S. Senate. That loss that is partly attributable to controversy surrounding his hiring of George Rekers to serve as an “expert witness” to defend the state’s ban on gay couples adopting children. Rekers was later exposed as a customer of a rentboy while on vacation in Europe. McCullum authorised payment of $120,000 for Rekers’ testimony, which was ultimately dismissed by the trial judge as “motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science.”

Court: Wisconsin gay parents don’t have rights

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Wisconsin appeals court says gay parents do not have full parental rights when it comes to their adopted children.

The court ruled Thursday against a woman who was seeking guardianship of two adopted children for whom she acted as a stay at home mother for years.

Cuz it’s in the interest of the kids, ya know.

Sigh.

Slovenia court upholds adoption

Timothy Kincaid

March 5th, 2010

This must be Slovenia week.

From Slovenia Press Agency

The Supreme Court has upheld a US ruling which allowed a gay couple with dual US-Slovenian citizenship to adopt a girl in America, making the couple the girl’s legal parents in Slovenia as well, media report Friday.

That is good news for the Family Law debate which focused in a large part on gay adoption.

Adoption in France

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

Gay rights in Europe have different difficulties than in the States. Where here the battle is over legal rights and recognition for couples, European countries tend to place more restrictions on parenting. For example, in France where PACS have been legal since 2006, only heterosexual married couples can adopt.

Radio France Internationale is reporting that a breakthrough has just been accomplished in France:

School teacher Emmanuelle B. should receive the necessary paperwork within 15 days following Tuesday morning’s decision, capping off a long court battle that has lasted more than 10 years.

Emmanuelle and her partner Laurence R., a school psychologist, have been living together for twenty years, and meet the requirements of seriousness and stability asked of prospective adopters, the judges wrote in their decision.

Her battle has been through French courts, the European Court of Human Rights, and back again. And it appears that, at least in this instance, Emmanuelle’s desire to be a parent will not be blocked by legislative roadblocks.

But the decision isn’t an outright victory for homosexual couples.

“The judge authorised a woman, who made her request to adopt as an individual, not a homosexual couple as such,” he said.

Montana Supremes Find for Lesbian Parent

Timothy Kincaid

October 7th, 2009

Back in 1995 Barbara Maniaci met Michelle Kulstad and they fell in love. In 1996 Kulstad moved from Seattle to Montana to be with Maniaci and they exchanged rings on March 18, 1996.

As time went on, the ladies decided to bring children into their lives so in 2001 the adopted a little boy. Three years later a little girl came into the family. They participated equally in the parenting of these children.

Now as Montana, their home state, does not allow for same-sex couple adoptions, they decided that Maniaci was the better adoption applicant. This proved to be an unfortunate choice.

in 2006, after a decade together, the couple split up and Maniaci tried to exclude Kulstad from her share of their acquisitions and from access to her children.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Montana found, by a 6 – 1 decision, that Kulstad could not be denied her parental rights. The decision is not all that surprising. But far more interesting are the statements and positions of some people involved.

Dr. Trayce Hansen

First let’s look at one small item in the court’s order. When describing the facts of the proceedings, one thing lept out at me:

The court-appointed expert, Dr. Miller, presented testimony regarding her educational background and her parenting plan evaluation.Kulstad presented testimony by Dr. Silverman and Suzanne Dixon, M.D. (Dr. Dixon). Trayce Hansen, Ph.D. (Dr. Hansen), testified for Maniaci.

Silverman was a court appointee. Miller was a specialist in clinical psychology specializing in the protection of children. Who, though, is Hansen.

Dr. Hansen admitted on cross-examination that parenting evaluations represented a new area for her and that she never actually had prepared one. Dr. Hansen never had been qualified as an expert witness by any court. Dr. Hansen never had been retained by any party as an expert witness. Dr. Hansen’s psychology practice involved geriatric patients. Dr. Hansen conceded that she currently did not work with children and had fewer than four years of professional experience after earning her Ph.D. She had worked as a research assistant and had published one article in the journal Personality Assessment in a forensic-type situation.

Why, then, was Hansen presented as a witness credible enough to attack Dr. Miller and the state’s entire evaluation process? Well, a clue can be found in the words of Attorney Matt McReynolds with the Pacific Justice Institute (Lifesite)

“It’s fairly shocking how the Court wouldn’t allow this person who had left the lesbian lifestyle to be freed from it – her and her children.

“It’s very disturbing that someone who wants to get out of this lifestyle can still be trapped in it for years to come …

Barbara Maniaci – who has since married a man – is apparently ex-gay. So we are not really talking about a child custody dispute; rather, we are talking about another battle in the Great Anti-Gay Culture War in which children are pawns of anti-gay and ex-gay activists.

Maniaci’s was not represented by the highest profile divorce attorneys in Montana; her counsel was the anti-gay activist legal group Alliance Defense Fund. And they selected Hansen as their expert witness. Because while Trayce Hansen may know little to nothing about child psychology, when it comes to anti-gay activism she is no novice.

In June of last year, Dr. Hansen issued a press release breathlessly declaring, “Children raised by openly homosexual parents are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior themselves.” This was a follow up to her ” 5 Reasons Why Same-Sex Marriage Will Harm Children.”

What Hansen forgets to reveal in her arguments is that as a research assistant working with geriatric patients, she has no more qualification to make such claims than do I. But, like many anti-gay activists, she’s not above using her title deceptively to achieve her dishonest goals.

The court was not impressed.

The court noted that, contrary to Dr. Hansen’s testimony, the APA concludes that no evidence suggests that same-sex couples are unfit to be parents, or that psychosocial development among children of same-sex couples would be compromised in any respect.

Perhaps that can serve as a warning to anti-gay activists: arguments based solely in animus that are contradicted by evidence do not serve you well in court. Just because you choose to believe your own bogus claims and dubious “studies” does not help you when facing judges that are not blinded by a desire to believe the worst about gay people.

Justice James C. Nelson

Judge Nelson concurred with the findings of the court. But he had a few more things to add to his conclusions.

Sadly, however, this case represents yet another instance in which fellow Montanans, who happen to be lesbian or gay, are forced to battle for their fundamental rights to love who they want, to form intimate associations, to form family relationships, and to have and raise children—all elemental, natural rights that are accorded, presumptively and without thought or hesitation, to heterosexuals.

I stand by my concurring opinion. Unfortunately, though, nothing has changed. I am convinced that until our courts, as a matter of law, accept homosexuals as equal participants with heterosexuals in our society, each person with exactly the same civil and natural rights,
lesbian and gay citizens will continue to suffer homophobic discrimination. Regrettably, this sort of discrimination is both socially acceptable and politically popular.

Naming it for the evil it is, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is an expression of bigotry. And, whether rationalized on the basis of majoritarian morality, partisan ideology, or religious tenets, homophobic discrimination is still bigotry. It cannot be justified; it cannot be legalized; it cannot be constitutionalized.

Amen, Judge.

Justice Jim Rice

Justice Rice has decided that this is all a dispute between the “natural parent” and some “third party” seeking to destroy “the constitutional rights of a natural parent to parent his or her child”.

Because there is something more “natural parenty” about the one partner who was allowed to adopt than there is about the other partner who the state would not allow to co-adopt. Being the one allowed to sign is all that matters to Rice, not whether both parents provided a parental role and their intention was consistently from the beginning to raise the children jointly.

From its emphasis on the facts of this case, it is apparent that the Court has found Kulstad’s case to be factually compelling, as did the District Court, and, thus, has ruled in her favor. But the Court has not acknowledged the significance of the most fundamental facts of this case: Maniaci is a parent, and Kulstad is not.

A legacy of this decision is the legion of parents who will be forced to litigate in order to protect the rights that the Constitution once guaranteed to them. A single parent must now consider whether a new romantic relationship will jeopardize the right to parent her or his children by way of a future third party parenting claim. Other like situations abound.

There will be further consequences as well. This case may well be reported as a legal victory for the rights of same-sex couples. Because both sides have stated that the parties’ gender is not a determinative issue in this case, neither the Court nor this dissent has discussed it. Regardless, the implications of the decision go far beyond the gender of the particular parties at issue here. There are parameters in neither the statute nor this decision that limit the kind or number of parties and relationships that will be now subject to parenting claims. Before this decision, protection of parental constitutional rights, which required termination of a parent’s rights before granting a parental interest to a third party, necessarily, by biology and the adoption laws, limited the number of parents a child could have. However, those inherent limits have now been removed by the Court. Consequently,
what if three or four adult partners develop a “parent-child relationship” with a child? Multiple-party clusters raising children, or polyamorous “families,” are the next wave in societal relationship experimentation.

Ah, yes. If we let the gays be parents then it’s a slippery slope to polygamy. Will someone please think of the children.

Somehow I don’t think Justice Rice will be invited to Thanksgiving Dinner at Justice Nelson’s home.

Growing Up Gay Attending Coastline Bible Church, Day II of IV

"The Harm Of Trying To Fit Into Someone Else's Mold"

Daniel Gonzales

October 7th, 2009

Here is today’s installment of my series looking at my childhood church’s harmful teachings which ultimately lead me to seek out ex-gay therapy.

Churches like Coastline Bible Church like to present a single model for what makes up an acceptable family — this is generally at the expense of single parent households, other family members raising kids, blended families, unmarried partners, people who remain single or don’t procreate, and of course LGBT folk like me.

Today’s video looks at how the church sends the message to non-conformers like me that I am inferior unless I bend my life to fit their model. As you’ll see bending one’s life to such extreme degrees can result in things breaking.

There’s a term for this attitude, Heterosexism: the presumption that straight two-parent households are superior to all other family life arrangements. And in case you haven’t already heard about it, Soulforce, Box Turtle Bulletin, Truth Wins Out and a few other groups are having an entire conference about the underlying heterosexism of exgay programs next in Florida called the Anti-Heterosexism Conference.  Of course I’ll be there.

Part I, “What My Church Taught Me About My Sexuality”
Part II, “The Harm Of Trying To Fit Into Someone Else’s Mold”
Part III, “Distrusting Science When It Doesn’t Agree With Your Faith”
Part IV, “Gender Conformity And Giving In To Peer Pressure”

El Salvador’s Gay Marriage Ban Fails

Timothy Kincaid

September 25th, 2009

El Salvador’s governing leftwing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) voted as a block against amendments to the constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions and adoption of children by same-sex couples. Thus supporters were not able to get the required two thirds to write discrimination into their governing document. (IPS)

During the weeks running up to the vote on Thursday, Catholic and evangelical churches in El Salvador joined forces with rightwing parties to try to push through the constitutional reforms.

Hundreds of Catholics and evangelicals carrying placards with messages like “Marriage is Sacred, Let’s Defend It” marched through the streets of San Salvador on Saturday, Sept. 19 in support of the rightwing opposition bloc in parliament and to press the FMLN to ratify changes to three articles of the constitution.

The church groups held a permanent “prayer chain” and organised more street demonstrations early this week, in the hope that the reforms would be approved in the legislative vote on Thursday, Sept. 24.

Supporters of the reforms said they were defending public morality and the foundations of the family.

Scotland Couples Can Adopt

Timothy Kincaid

September 23rd, 2009

From the anti-gay website LifeSiteNews

Scotland’s devolved parliament has announced that, starting next week, homosexual partners may adopt children together and both be regarded as the child’s parents.

Previously the rules said that homosexuals could adopt only as singles. Legislation in 2005 granted adoption rights to unmarried couples, including homosexual partners in England and Wales.

Uruguay Legalizes Adoption

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2009

We told you earlier that Uruguay was in the process of legalizing adoption by same-sex couples. It appears it has now passed the final hurdle. (AFP)

Uruguay lawmakers Wednesday adopted a trailblazing law allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children, in an unprecedented move for Latin America.

Senator Margarita Percovich told AFP the contentious bill had passed its final hurdle with 17 out of 23 senators voting in favor of the legislation.

Anti-Gay Extremists Cite Gay Pedophile As Typical Of All Gays

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2009

Anti-gay extremists are all over this news item from Durham, North Carolina:

A Duke University official has been charged in federal court with offering his 5-year-old adopted son up for sex. Frank Lombard, associate director of the Center for Health Policy, was arrested Wednesday in Raleigh, the FBI said.

An unidentified informant who already faces child porn charges in a different child sex case pointed investigators to Lombard, according to court documents. The informant told investigators he had met Lombard on the Internet four years ago. The informant described in graphic detail how he allegedly observed Lombard molesting an African-American child on four occasions over an Internet video chat service called ICUii.

…During the chats, according to the affidavit, “FL” [Frank Lombard’s screen name] told undercover investigators that he had himself molested his child, whom he adopted as an infant, and that he had allowed others to molest his child. “FL” stated that “the abuse of the child was easier when the child was too young to talk or know what was happening, but that he had drugged the child with Benadryl during molestation.”

Predictably, anti-gay extremists are already using this horrific crime as “proof” that all gay people are unfit to be parents. They’ll tell you that this is how virtually all gay men behave. LifeSite is already eating it up, as are Dakota Voice’s Bob Ellis and Town Hall’s Mike Adams.

We’ve seen them equate homosexuality with pedophilia by tagging the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act with the libelous “Pedophile Protection Act” moniker. Adams piled onto that them by following his first post up with another one noting that Lombard was Facebook Fan with Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Bishop of the Anglican Church. The Right Rev. Robinson has 3,668 other fans, but that didn’t deter Adams from asking, “Is this arrest thwarting an effort by Lombard to promote tolerance of pedophilia in the Episcopal Church?”

This episode even gave discredited anti-gay “researcher” Paul Cameron the chance to come out of the woodwork to claim that this sad episode “demonstrates why gays should not be able to adopt.”

Kiliann Melloy has a great rundown on anti-gay reactions to Lombard’s arrest at EDGE Boston, including a blog which claims to be a “grassroots network of the Republican Party of Virginia.” And she reviews the contention by Paul Cameron and another so-called “researcher,” Dr. Judith Reisman, that gay men are more likely to molest children. (Reisman’s Ph.D. is in Communications, but as Melloy notes, that doesn’t stop her from writing about the physiological effects of pornography on the brain without the aid of any research.)

The lesson we ought to learn from Lombard’s arrest is that being a horrible, abusive parent is an equal-opportunity crime. Gay individuals are no more immune from engaging in criminal conduct with five-year-olds than straight people. Like this heterosexual couple from Indiana, just to name one tragic example.

To learn more about what research says about homosexuality and child abuse, see our report, "Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?"

To learn more about what research says about homosexuality and child abuse, see our report, "Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?"

But it’s gay men in particular which get the blame for molesting children. Anti-gay activists will claim that gay men are guilty of this horrible crime in numbers far exceeding their proportion in the overall population. The problem with that assertion though is that there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim. That’s not to say that there are no gay predators. But there is no evidence to suggest that gay men are more likely to molest children than straight men, which is the fear-mongering message that extremists return to again and again.

The real tragedy in this case is that a very young boy has been horribly abused. The crime that anti-gay extremists engage in by slandering all gay people with this episode is, without a doubt, the much lesser crime. But it is a crime nevertheless, and it’s one they will have to answer for someday. Just like this Lombard bastard.

West Virginia Supreme Court Awards Custody To Lesbian Couple

Jim Burroway

June 5th, 2009

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that an 18-month-old foster child should be allowed to remain with the only parents she has ever known.

In a unanimous opinion, the court turned back Fayette County Circuit Judge Paul Blake Jr.’s order that the girl should be taken away from Kathryn Kutil and Cheryl Hess and placed with a heterosexual couple who might adopt her. The court noted that there was no evidence that the girl’s placement with the lesbian couple was in any way harmful to her:

“As a matter of fact, the court was never presented with any actual evaluation of the home or evidence of the quality of the relationship” the girl had with Kutil and Hess, the justices said. “All indications thus far are that (the girl) has formed a close emotional bond and nurturing relationship with her foster parents, which can not be trivialized or ignored.”

The justices said Blake only ruled in favor of removing the child to promote placing her with a heterosexual couple.

“The conclusion itself represents a blurring of legal principles applicable to abuse and neglect and adoption,” the decision said. “Even if our current statutes, rules and regulations could somehow be read to support the adoption preference proposed by (Blake) such a newfound principle would need to be harmonized with established law.”

The court also said that Kutil and Hess should be considered “if not favored” in the selection of the girl’s eventual adoptive home. The girl has lived with Kutil and Hess her entire life, after having been born to a drug-addicted mother in 2007. The Department of Health and Human Resources placed the infant with Kutil and Hess, but later sought to remove the girl, even though Kutil and Hess were foster parents to six other children. DHHR claimed that they only wanted to alleviate what they saw as too many children in the Kutil-Hess household, but the Supreme Court didn’t buy it:

“It is more than apparent that the only reason why [Kutil and Hess] were being replaced as foster care providers was to promote the adoption of [the child] by what [Blake] called in his November 12, 2008, order a ‘traditionally defined family, that is, a family consisting of both a mother and a father,'” the opinion reads.

West Virginia law allows three types of parents to adopt: a single person; a married person with permission from his or her spouse; or a married couple. The court noted that West Virginia Law does not place a preference on the type of person who adopts. One of the two women hopes to adopt the child as a single parent.

Heterosexual Menace: Shock Collars, Shootings, Incest — But No Gay Adoption

Jim Burroway

February 2nd, 2009

From Xenia, Ohio, we have a father who disciplined his children by using shock collars:

The Caesarscreek Twp. man who used a shock collar and water torture to discipline three of his four children was sentenced to 16 years in prison by Greene County Common Pleas Court Judge J. Timothy Campbell Monday. David O. Liskany, 39, of Hussey Road, was sentenced to six years each for two counts of second-degree felonious assault and to four years for one count of third-degree attempted felonious assault.

“The only thing you didn’t do was wrap their faces in cheesecloth. They basically were waterboarded,” Campbell said before handing down his sentence, which was far harsher than the 4 years in prison recommended by state probation authorities. According to Campbell, Liskany abused three of his four children — who were 13, 11 and four at the time of the abuse — by using a dog’s shock collar on them, holding them underwater, subjecting them to cold showers and spraying water up their noses.

Authorities found out when the older boy ran away from home, walking fifteen miles to a relative. Liskany’s ex-wife Wendy Liskany pleaded for the court to not jail her ex-husband. “I don’t feel that incarcerating him will help,” she said.

Maybe Liskany had to use such creative measures because they spoiled their children when they were younger. These parents from New York were determined not to make that mistake:

A 5-month-old child is in critical condition Saturday in what police suspect is a child abuse case. Police say they have charged the girl’s father, Scott Archbold, 41, with causing the injuries including multiple bone fractures, internal bleeding and signs of prior abuse. Christina Benjamin, (above right) the infant’s mother, has been charged with child endangerment for allegedly failing to get the child medical attention after the infant’s grandmother suspected the abuse.

But at least Liskany and the Archbold-Benjamins didn’t just kill their entire families outright.

Armed with a handgun, [Ervin Antonio] Lupoe evidently roamed room to room starting as early as Monday evening, fatally shooting his wife and five young children — including two sets of twins.

Early Tuesday, Lupoe faxed a bitter, rambling two-page letter to a local television station blaming his employer for his actions. Though his wife and children were already dead, he also called the station threatening to kill his family, investigators believe. He followed this up with an incongruous call to police saying that he had returned home and that “my whole family has been shot.”

Fortunately, not all heterosexuals are so violent. This father loved his daughter so much, he had four children by her. He didn’t care much for his grandchildren-children though:

The father, Danial Rinehart, 47, is scheduled to appear in court Thursday. Authorities say three of the four babies he fathered by the second-oldest daughter, who is now 19, are dead. A 3-year-old boy is alive and in state custody. Rinehart is charged with second-degree felony murder, child endangerment, two counts of incest and two counts of abandonment of a corpse. The remains of two infants were found in chest-type coolers.

His wife, Linda Rinehart, is charged with child endangerment. Authorities say she was jealous of the relationship between her husband and daughter but helped with the babies’ deliveries.

Obviously, we need to put a stop to this sort of abusive family dynamics. That’s why a Tennessee state legislator is introducing legislation to ban adoption by same-sex parents. It’s also why a West Virginia judge thinks a 2-year-old girl would be much better off if she were ripped from the only parents she has ever known. Her lesbian fostor parents have cared for her since birth and now want to adopt her.

You can read more about the misery and emptiness of the heterosexual lifestyle here and in our report, “The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.”

No More Dog Whistles: Introducing the Obama LGBT Scorecoard:

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

January 22nd, 2009

We’ve had eight years of listening for dog whistles. We learned quickly that whenever President Bush or members of Congress spoke, we had to dissect every utterance, split every infinitive, and scoop every dangling participle to try to discern the secret message that was being sent to the base. For all of his assaults on English, President Bush was particularly adept at speaking that unique language which only his base could understand without raising the ire of moderates.

Along the way, we learned that the Dred Scott decision somehow related to abortion and that God prefers commas over periods. We analyzed every message, the way the CIA dissects audio tapes from Osama bin Ladin in case there might be a secret message for a far-flung branch of Al Qaida — which, coincidentally, just happens to be Arabic for “the base.”

And I think that affected to how we approached statements from erstwhile allies as well. Was that a flinch we saw when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” came up? Why won’t she come straight out against “DOMA”? Why can’t he come out more forcefully against Prop 8? Every statement became a possible clue, and every omission appeared to boom louder than words.

This continued after the election. I was certainly part of it. Why Rick Warren? Why not Gene Robinson? And why was Gene Robinson’s invocation omitted from the broadcast? Why didn’t Obama give us a shout-out in his Inaugural address?

Well, we can stop listening for dog whistles. We can stop jumping up and down in excitement whenever he mentions gays, and we can stop pouting when he doesn’t. Because when the WhiteHouse.gov web site switched hands at 12:01 Tuesday afternoon, a very important document appeared: an LGBT civil rights agenda.

I said then that it looks like a very good scorecard on which we can judge the Obama administration. In fact, the more I look at it, the more I’ve concluded that no gay rights organization could have created a better scorecard in their wildest dreams.

That’s why I decided to condense it into a simple checklist form. And here it is: Barack Obama’s LGBT Civil Rights Scorecard. It’s the one he himself signed up to. And it’s one that I intend to refer to often over the next four years.

I doubt there will be immediate action on any of these items. After all, I can see how a crashing economy and a war in Iraq might be something of a distraction, to say the least. With people losing their jobs, homes, and health care, there’s a lot that needs to be done.

But I have to admit that I labor under the possibly mistaken impression that our elected representatives can walk and chew gum. They should be able to squeeze in a few of these promises in due course amongst the other things that need to be done. But even I know that we can’t sit back and assume that all of those wonderful politicians who made so many swell promises will actually get right on all those promises they made. I mean, c’mon — they’re politicians.

Besides when we’re talking about civil rights, the door has never opened because someone pulled the door open from the inside. It’s always been opened by a strong push from that outside.

That’s where we come in. They signed up for an impressive checklist. But it’s up to us to hold them to it.

Florida Adoption Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

Jim Burroway

November 25th, 2008

Miami-Date Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman has declared Florida’s gay adoption ban unconstitutional, saying, “It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person’s ability to parent.” This ruling grants Frank Gill, a gay foster father in North Miami, the go-ahead to adopt two foster children he has been raising since 2004. The two children are ages 4 and 8, making Frank virtually the only parent the younger child has ever known.

Lawyers for the state of Florida immediately said they would appeal the ruling. During the hearings, attorneys for the state brought in so-called “experts” George Rekers and Walter Schumm, both of whom are closely associated with Paul Cameron. Rekers used his own particular brand of junk science to support the state’s position that gays should be barred from adopting, adding that he believed the ban should extend to Native Americans for the same reasons.

I’m very interested in obtaining a copy of Judge Lederman’s ruling. Her evaluation of the state’s “experts” could be very entertaining.

Update: More quotes from Judge Lederman’s ruling via the Associated Press:

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman said the 31-year-old law violates equal protection rights for the children and their prospective gay parents, rejecting the state’s arguments that there is “a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children.” She also noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents in Florida.

…”There is no ‘morality’ interest with regard to one group of individuals permitted to form the visage of a family in one context but prohibited in another,” Lederman wrote in a 53-page decision. “There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting.”

…Lederman rejected all the state’s arguments soundly. “It is clear that sexual orientation is not a predictor of a person’s ability to parent,” the judge wrote. “A child in need of love, safety and stability does not first consider the sexual orientation of his parent. The exclusion causes some children to be deprived of a permanent placement with a family that is best suited to their needs.”

Update: It looks like Judge Lederman ruled based on what was best for these particular children.  From the Orlando Sentinel:

“These children are thriving. These words we don’t often hear within these walls. That’s uncontroverted,” said Circuit Judge Cindy S. Lederman. “They’re a good family. They’re a family in every way except in the eyes of the law. These children have a right to permanancy,” the judge said. “The only real permanancy is adoption in the home where they are thriving. … There is no rational basis to preclude homosexuals from adopting.”

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