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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 October, 2009

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.”

Anti-Gay “Expert” Would Consider Banning Adoptions By Native Americans

Jim Burroway

November 23rd, 2008

Two anti-gay activists closely associated with Paul Cameron have inserted themselves into the center of Florida’s gay adoption controversy.

Florida is the only state in the nation which explicitly bans adoption by gay parents. That law is now being challenged. The Miami Herald has obtained a transcript from an adoption trial which was closed the public. The trial ran on Oct. 1-6, and centered on a gay foster father’s petition to adopt the two small boys he has been raising since 2004. The trial featured testimony from a half-dozen expert witnesses in psychology, epidemiology, sociology and family studies.

The state of Florida, which is supporting the ban, relied on two so-called “expert witnesses” who are closely associated with discredited “researcher” Paul Cameron. George A. Rekers, is a retired professor from the University of South Carolina, who taught neuropsychiatry and behavioral science. Walter R. Schumm, is an assistant professor of family studies at Kansas State University.

According to the Miami Herald:

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

Rekers said he would, in fact, favor banning anyone from adopting who had more than 18 “sex partners” during a lifetime. “I think that would be a very good social policy,” he said in a deposition.

He said he would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because research shows that they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. “They would tend to hang around each other,” Rekers testified. “So the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are … doing the same sorts of things.”

Rekers relies extensively on Cameron’s research, citing as many as nine separate Cameron articles in one 2005 paper. Rekers and Cameron together launched Cameron’s online “Journal,” the Empirical Journal of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior, in 2007. The EJSSB is purportedly an open-access peer-reviewed journal, but, in fact, it is nothing more than a dressed-up web site. Since its inception in 2007, the only articles “published” to date are three papers by Paul Cameron and one book review by Gerard J.M. van den Aardweg, another close Cameron collaborator.

Rekers support of racism to exclude an entire class of prospective parents from adopting is most extraordinary. Of course, it’s no more shocking than Cameron’s own apologia for how the Nazi’s “dealt with” homosexuality at Dachau and Sachsenhausen.

Schumm is considerably more circumspect in how he uses Cameron’s research, but he did publish a 2000 article in Psychological Reports, Paul Cameron’s favorite publication outlet, defending Cameron’s research methods against Dr. Gregory Herek’s criticisms. Schumm is also listed as a member of Cameron’s “Editorial and Scientific Review Board” for the EJSSB.

In the trial, Schumm used data from his recent Psychological Reports article to claim that about 19 percent of children raised by gay parents are likely to become gay, compared with 4 percent of children with straight parents. Testifying for Frank Gill, the gay foster father, Susan D. Cochran, a professor of epidemiology and statistics at UCLA, accused Schumm of cooking his data.

”This is taught in first-year statistics,” Cochran testified. “I was surprised he would do that.”

James Esseks, one of Gill’s attorneys, criticized Rekers for relying on Paul Cameron’s work, citing his being dropped from the American Psychological Association in 1983 after he declined to cooperate with an ethics investigation on charges he had distorted research by others scientists on gay people.

Florida’s gay adoption ban was declared unconstitutional by a Circuit Court judge last fall in Key West. Since that decision wasn’t appealed to a higher court, it did not have any effect statewide. But the state is now fighting Gill’s attempt to adopt these two boys, which means that whatever the outcome, it will likely be appealed to the Third District Court of Appeal and possibly the Florida Supreme Court. If so, that outcome would go into effect statewide.

About 22,000 Florida children are in state custody, with more than 4,000 of them eligible for adoption. Only two states have more foster children waiting to be adopted.

[Hat tip: Alvin McEwen]

Rosie Wins, Anita Loses

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2008

The Miami Herald is reporting that a Florida judge has found the state’s ban on adoption by gay persons to be unconstitutional:

A Monroe Circuit Court judge has ruled Florida’s 31-year-old gay adoption ban ”unconstitutional” in an order that allows an openly gay Key West foster parent to adopt a teenage boy he has raised since 2001.

Declaring the adoption to be in the boy’s ”best interest,” Circuit Judge David J. Audlin Jr. said the Florida law forbidding gay people from adopting children is contrary to the state Constitution because it singles out a group for punishment.

Based on previous decisions, the decision may not withstand appeal.

Study: Stepfathers Make Slightly Better Parents than Married Biological Fathers

Jim Burroway

August 9th, 2008

Oh dear. Another chink in the far-right’s armor:

Mothers reported that stepfathers were more engaged, more cooperative and shared more responsibility than their biological counterparts did, according to the study, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

One important caveat however:

Lawrence Berger, the study’s lead author, cautioned that the findings applied only to “fragile families,” defined as low-income urban families prone to non-marital births.

That last point has some possibly very important implications for adoption by same-sex parent, since they are much more likely to adopt older, more difficult-to-place children and other children with special needs.

Just Leave Out the Icky Part

Timothy Kincaid

October 31st, 2007

martian.jpgWhat would you do if there was a charming little story about an orphan kid who thought he was a Martian? You’d make it into a movie, of course.

But what if this was a family movie and one of the characters was gay? Oh, you’d just remove that icky part, of course. Does it matter if the story is semi-autobiographical and based on a the difficulties of being a gay father to an adopted son with serious abandonment issues? Nah, just make him straight. It’s much cuddlier.

From Vue Weekly:

Really, how can you not love a little boy orphan who truly believes he’s from Mars and travels inside of an Amazon.com cardboard box with the warning “FRAGILE: Handle with care” on it? David Gordon (John Cusack) certainly can’t. In fact, this celestial orphan named Dennis (Bobby Coleman) might be the perfect match for science fiction writer David.

That is the sole premise of Martian Child, based on the award-winning novelette by, and about, sci-fi author David Gerrold and his experiences as a single adoptive dad. The only major difference is this family film leaves out the part where David is gay, and instead makes him a widower with an attractive “friend,” Harlee, played by Amanda Peet.

Awww. How sweet.

Maybe he and his father can go to a Save Marriage rally in the movie as well. Wouldn’t that be sweet?

Reviewer Omar Mouallem, who has no problem with this minor revision, tells us

But like the orphan in the box, it’s not humanly possible to dislike Martian Child. Not even a little.

Oh, I don’t know about that, Omar. I haven’t even seen it and already I dislike it more than a little.

You see, Omar, I’m not all that fond of when heterosexuals take the contributions and sacrifices that gay men and women make – often times because of the humanity and compassion that comes from being made to feel like an outsider – and pretend that the very attributes that taught this person compassion are icky and nasty and to be hidden.

Failing to Convince, Seeking to Coerce

Timothy Kincaid

October 31st, 2007

amycontradasick.jpgWhy do some people put such effort into “defeating the homosexual agenda”? Regular ol’ people seldom really care what you do in private. They can’t even seem to get all incensed about whether you marry the person you love and they tend to think you shouldn’t be fired from your job or banned from the military. But why do some folks care a WHOLE LOT about those issues?

Often when you scratch below the surface, the motivation becomes evident. Sometimes it’s a hidden sex life. Sometimes it’s some grief that the individual had with a gay person. But quite often it turns out that the anti-gay activist has a gay child.

I believe that their motivation to pass anti-gay legislation or other forms of discrimination is born out of their sense of frustration. Unable to convince or persuade their child not to be gay, they seek to use the power of the government to control the life of their child.

This week one more anti-gay activist is revealed to be the parent of an openly-gay child. This time it is the virulently homophobic Amy Contrada.

We’ve discussed Amy before. She’s the voice of opposition to The Laramie Project that recently was embarrassed when her daughter starred in the play (though she was quick to point out that this daughter is adopted). To Amy’s chagrin, rather than being grateful and submitting to Amy’s every demand, the Claudia Contrada is exerting her right to be herself. This week Claudia gave an interview to Queer Today:

I am a lesbian, which my mom still does not get. She just says that I am confused. I realized in around eighth grade, but I was in denial for quite some time because I was scared due to my mother constantly saying that homosexuality is wrong. How can it ever be wrong to love though? That’s what I’d like to know.

We know full well how difficult it can be living in a home that does not approve of your orientation. We wish Claudia strength.

Further, we wish Amy the courage to let go and allow Claudia to become the woman she’s intended to be. We wish Amy the wisdom to see that her efforts to control the lives of total strangers is based in her inability to control those closest to her and that such efforts are not only futile but also selfish and cruel.

What’s Best for the Children

Timothy Kincaid

September 29th, 2007

Anti-gays often justify bigotry with the claim, “I want what’s best for the Children”. This is generally played as some trump card intended to show that they are moral and superior and concerned about the interests of those who are weak and vulnerable and that gay people are selfish and hedonistic. This supercilious remark is trotted out for all sorts of nastiness from opposing family protections, banning adoptions, and censoring literature.

Naturally, much of the results of such bigotry serves to do just the opposite. It often causes hardships in the lives of real living breathing children – about whom anti-gay demonstrate little care.

One such instance is reported in the Utah Daily Herald. Utah has a law that requires those who adopt or are foster parents to either be married or to live alone. Oh, and gay couples cannot marry. It’s for the children, you know.

[Michael Valez and Michael Oberg] were surprised three weeks ago when the children’s birth mother [Valdez' niece] asked them to take care of her children while she dealt with drug-related criminal matters. It was no small task, but they wanted to help, said Oberg. The kids are aged 11, 6 and 2 years, and 10 months. The children’s fathers aren’t able to take them, at least not now.

So the kids went to stay with their uncles and a cousin where they were known and loved and, though it was difficult, they could be together. But the state wants to take the children away from their uncle and put them in the foster system where they will most likely be broken up. At present a judge is allowing Valdez to retain custody of the kids, but it is against the wishes of the DCSF lawyer.

And those who support Utah’s anti-gay law that seeks to take these young children away from family members, break them up, and give them to strangers no doubt justify their callousness as being Best For The Children.

CNN Poll on Homosexuality

Timothy Kincaid

June 27th, 2007

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll released today revealed the following attitudes Americans have about homosexuality:

Can gay people reorient: 56% say no; 45% say yes

What “causes” homosexuality: 42% say upbringing; 39% birth; 10% both; 3% neither

Let gay people serve openly in the military: 79% say yes; 18% say no

Recognize gay couples: 24% marriage; 27% civil unions; 43% neither

Allow gay couples to adopt: 57% say yes; 40% say no

Arkansas Family Council to Propose Adoption Ban

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2007

The Arkansas Family Council, the group responsible for Arkansas’ constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, has announced that they will push for a ballot measure to ban adoption and foster parenting by gay people or unmarried couples. If the measure’s name and ballot title are approved by the state Attorney General, the Family Council would then have until July 7th to collect the required signatures to get the proposal on the November 2008 general election ballot.

The group hasn’t decided yet whether to make the proposal an initiative, which could be overturned by a three-fourth’s vote of the state legislature, or a constitutional amendment, which can only be overturned by another ballot proposal.

The Arkansas Family Council is an official state policy council for Focus on the Family.

Two Real Fathers

Jim Burroway

September 14th, 2006

Here is something making the rounds from Dutch television, via YouTube.

For all the real fathers out there, and their kids.

Why Marriage Is Important To Children

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2006

Pawelski, James G.; Perrin, Ellen C.; Foy, Jane M., et al. “Effects of marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws on the health and well-being of children.”Pediatrics 118, no. 1 (July 2006): 349-364. Free full text available at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/1/349.

The Board of Directors of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) commissioned a study last year on the challenges same-sex couples and their children face as a result of a public policy that excludes them from civil marriage and (in most states) second-parent adoption rights. That study appears in this month’s edition of the journal Pediatrics. It has also been made available for free to the general public via the journal’s web site. This report is highly readable, and provides an excellent rundown on all the reasons why marriage and civil unions are crucially important to the children of gays and lesbians.

Pediatricians have a very rich professional perspective on the importance of marriage in the family, and specifically, the special issues facing gays and lesbians. The authors note:

Because many pediatricians are fortunate to care for 2 or more generations of a family, we are likely to encounter and remain involved with our patients, regardless of sexual orientation, as they mature and mark the milestones of establishing a committed partnership with another adult, deciding to raise a family, and entrusting the health and well-being of their own children to us.

Data from the 2000 census shows that the highest concentration of same-sex couples raising children is found in the South, where 36% of lesbian couples and 24% of gay couples are raising children. The second highest percentage is in the Midwest. These regions represent the bedrock of what we often consider to be “family values,” where the data clearly shows gays and lesbians are living examples of those values despite the obstacles.

The State of the Union
The report begins with an excellent overview of the state of marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws across all fifty states and the District of Columbia, including descriptions of the strengths and weaknesses of the various definitions of civil union and domestic partnership that exists in many localities. Also included is a overview of the famous list of 1,136 federal provisions identified by the Government Accountability Office related to the rights, protections, benefits and obligations related to marriage.

The authors also note the obstacles to adoption and foster parenting placed against gays and lesbians. Coparent or second-parent adoptions are recognized only in nine states (California, Connecticut, D.C., Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont; and the District of Columbia). Most children raised in same-sex households were originally born into a heterosexual relationship, before one or both parents came out of the closet. This means that later, when that parent enters into a relationship with a same-sex partner, that parent is the only one recognized as the child’s legal parent. The partner often has no parental rights available whatsoever.

When coupled with barriers to marriage rights, this situation places very serious and sometimes dangerous barriers between the non-biological parent and the child. For example:

  • That parent cannot consent to medical care or authorize emergency medical treatment for the child. This can be crucial if the legal parent isn’t available.
  • That parent cannot necessarily rely on visitation rights while the child is in the hospital.
  • That parent cannot exercise the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for the child.
  • That parent is not legally recognized as a parental authority in the child’s school.
  • That parent may not be able to continue to care for the child, or even assert visitation rights if the partnership is dissolved or the child’s biological or adoptive parent dies.
  • That parent cannot accompany the child while traveling abroad without special authorization from the child’s legal parent.
  • The child is not eligible for that parent’s Social Security survivorship benefit in the event of that parent’s death.

These are just a few of the many barriers that stand between parents and children in same-sex families. Others include ongoing acts of discrimination and hate crimes which serve to cast a pall on the atmosphere surrounding the child as he or she grows up in the world.

The article concludes with a rundown on the usual studies on the psychological well-being of the children of gay and lesbian parents, and summarizes the position statements of several organizations. Overall, it is an excellent, easy-to-read source for information on the the importance of marriage for the well-being of children.

The authors conclude:

Gays and lesbian people have been raising children for may years and will continue to do so in the future; the issue is whether these children will be raised by parents who have the rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage. …

Conscientious and nurturing adults, whether they are men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, can be excellent parents. The rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage can further strengthen these families.

Conservatives Are Right: Marriage Protects Children
Opponents to marriage equality for gays and lesbians often invoke the positive, supportive role marriage plays in families and children. The Heritage Foundation produced The Positive Effects of MArriage: A Book of Charts (PDF: 296KB/56 pages), which demonstrates the many ways in which marriage benefits are crucial to children’s well-being. So all of this begs the question: If marriage provides so many vital protections for children, how can conservatives continue to deny these very protections for the children of gay and lesbian couples? Are these children somehow less deserving?

Social conservatives are correct when they say that marriage protects children. It is time we offered all children that measure of protection.

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