NOM Gets Economics Wrong. Again.
May 30th, 2013
The UCLA Williams Institute (I’ll call them “WI”) is predicting an economic boost of $54-103 million in new spending for Illinois if the state legalizes same-sex marriage.
NOM’s Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse does not agree:
The people and legislators of Illinois should not count on extra revenue as a benefit from redefining marriage. These forecasts are based on an elementary economic error as well as highly dubious forecasts. That is why the “Gay Marriage Economic Miracle!!!” predictions have not worked out so well in the past.
I’ve learned Dr. Morse doesn’t have strong analytical skills, but this is her field, so I hoped for more this time. She did not deliver.
Dr. Morse describes the “elementary economic error”:
The same-sex couples of Illinois would have spent that money on other things: vacations, theater tickets, home decorating, pets, cars, doctor bills. Every dollar spent on weddings is a dollar taken away from some other industry!!
Not…exactly. Despite the italics and double exclamation.
Morse’s point is based on simple economics — simplistic economics, rather. The idea is that when people receive income, they either spend it or they save it, and if they save it, then banks lend those savings out to businesses and other consumers to spend. So every dollar is spent one way or another, and every dollar of income spent one way is just a dollar that can’t be spent some other way.
But consider this: What if the economy’s not so great? In a climate of fear and uncertainty, households usually try to cut back their spending. And businesses have little incentive to invest or expand. Dollars go unspent. You end up with usable but shuttered storefronts, functional but empty factories, and qualified but unemployed workers.
Economists call this the liquidity trap. A perfectly sensible decision by consumers and and businesses to spend less and save more (be more “liquid”) results in lower spending overall, “trapping” the economy in a recession unless we somehow find a way to boost spending back up.
A few signs can tell you if you’re in a liquidity trap. When interest rates plummet, it means businesses must not be competing hard for bank loans to finance expansion. That’s the situation now. Also, it’s not a good sign if businesses are sitting on mountains of cash rather than putting it to productive and profitable use. That, too, is our situation now.
The experts at the Williams Institute, however, do understand the liquidity trap. First, they estimated the number of same-sex couples likely to marry, factored in the average cost per wedding in Illinois, and then made this adjustment:
Also, only spending that comes from couples’ savings would truly be “new spending” for the State’s businesses, rather than money diverted from some other expenditure. To take these factors into account, as in previous studies by the Williams Institute, we estimate here that same-sex couples spend one-quarter of the amount that different-sex couples spend on wedding arrangements.
Emphasis added. In other words, they figured same-sex couples would use savings to pay for about a quarter of their wedding costs, and this is the only spending they counted.
[Note to Dr. Morse: When you're rebutting someone, and they've already preemptively struck down your primary objection, then you need to deal with that instead of pretending it's not there. Failing to do so is either dishonest or sloppy.]
- In 2008, WI predicted 2917 Iowa same-sex couples would marry in the first three years after it became legal, but in 2011 reported that only 866 had done so in the first year.
- In 2008, WI predicted sales tax revenue of $2.7 million per year for the first three years, but in 2011 reported it was only in the range of $850,000 to $930,000 for the first year.
As Dr. Morse says:
In addition, the gross but unacknowledged discrepancy between the inflated prediction of 2008 and the ecstatic report of success in 2011 cries out for explanation.
Fair enough. I’m disturbed that WI didn’t explain or even acknowledge the discrepancy, too. But Dr. Morse continues:
That explanation is simple: the Williams Institute seriously over-estimated the number of same-sex couples who would marry.
Well, it’s not quite that simple, especially if you’re trying to discredit the Illinois predictions.
First, as Dr. Morse should recall, the economy tanked a few months after WI issued its 2008 report. Marriage rates fell across the country (from 7.3% in 2007 to 6.8% in 2009), and it’s not unreasonable to think long-established couples delayed their ceremonies until the world settled down. In addition, the average spent per wedding dropped in Iowa, too.
I suppose it’s possible we’ll have another once-in-a-lifetime meltdown next year, but unless Dr. Morse is counting on it, those factors don’t apply to Illinois.
What WI really got wrong in 2008, though, was wedding tourism — the number of non-Iowans who would come to the state to marry. WI thought 54,723 out-of-state couples would do that, and this number was so far wrong it’s almost comical.
With some trepidation, then, I checked to see how much wedding tourism WI had factored into its Illinois forecast, and the answer is…
That’s right, zero. WI learned from its mistake, and this year when it predicted a $54-103 million boost from legalizing same-sex marriage in Illinois, it didn’t factor out-of-state couples into its calculations.
That’s a huge correction from the Iowa analysis. Now, you’re free to remain skeptical of these estimates (as a former Ph.D. candidate in economics, I’m skeptical as hell!) but at least be an informed skeptic. Who knows whether Dr. Morse doesn’t understand that this correction occurred, or she understands but is ignoring it to buttress a false case against the Illinois forecast. It’s the standard NOM question: incompetence or deception? All we can know for sure is that if you want a rigorous, well-informed analysis…don’t go to Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse.
It’s Not the Principle, It’s the Prejudice
May 22nd, 2013
Here’s something that baffles me. Our opponents complain that laws banning anti-gay discrimination violate their religious liberty, but they have no qualms about laws against religious discrimination.
For instance, Catholic Charities of Boston chose to shut down adoption services rather than place kids with married same-sex parents, and decried it as a violation of their religious freedom — even though they were fine with not being allowed to discriminate against Jews. For many faiths, belonging to the wrong religion, or failing to accept the right Savior, is a permanent ticket to Hell. What could be more important to them when choosing a parent than that?
Yet we hear not a peep from them about these religious discrimination laws. Somehow it’s only a violation of their freedom when it comes to the gays. But principles are only principles if they apply them consistently. If they search for why we sometimes see their principles as bigotry, this is a good place to start.
For example, picture this scene a newly-promoted manager being mentored by an executive.
Exec: You need to foster a safe and productive work environment. Don’t disparage people based on their gender.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their race.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their religion.
Manager: Of course not.
Exec: Or their orientation.
Manager: How dare you! This is an egregious violation of personal liberty! I’ve never seen anything like it! What is this, the Soviet Union?
I can imagine your reaction: Rob, you’re being an ass. You’ve mocked our opponents before, but this goes too far. They’d have to be ridiculous, self-righteous loons without an ounce of self-awareness to have such an over-the-top reaction, so divorced from reality, and it does us no good to tar them with such ridicule.
And I would kick shamefully at the ground and admit my fault.
Wait, no, I’d point you to this controversy over DOJ Pride.
DOJ Pride is a group for LGBT employees in the Department of Justice. They’ve distributed some helpful tips to DOJ managers about dealing with LGBT employees (I haven’t confirmed that they’re genuine, though I hope so), and the National Organization for Marriage is wallowing in a mucky sty of outrage. They’re promoting this spin on it from super-anti-gay Matt Barber:
The document is chilling. It’s riddled with directives that grossly violate – prima facie –employees’ First Amendment liberties.
You can view the document here and decide for yourself whether these are “directives.” They seem more like “helpful hints” from a group with no policy-making authority. But let’s look at what the document says:
Managers are essential to creating a workplace climate that is welcoming to and inclusive of all employees, and thus maximizes performance and productivity. In fact, managers have a more direct impact on workplace climate for employees, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees, than nondiscrimination and EEO policies and even co-workers.
Creating a work environment in which LGBT employees feel welcome and included has been shown to boost the performance and productivity of LGBT and non-LGBT employees alike. It also allows LGBT employees to build the kinds of open and trusting relationships with coworkers and managers that
are necessary for professional success.
So, what can a manager do? Here are seven practical tips to help managers create a truly inclusive workplace climate for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Here’s what Matt Barber and NOM tell us is really going on:
Following are excerpts from the “DOJ Pride” decree. When it comes to “LGBT pride,” employees are ordered:
- “DON’T judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval.” (Italics mine)
That’s a threat.
And not even a subtle one.
Got it? For Christians and other morals-minded federal employees, it’s no longer enough to just shut up and “stay in the closet” – to live your life in silent recognition of biblical principles (which, by itself, is unlawful constraint). When it comes to mandatory celebration of homosexual and cross-dressing behaviors, “silence will be interpreted as disapproval.”
All italics belong to Matt Barber. And so do the lies. This excerpted bullet is not about “LGBT pride” or “celebration” of anything. According to the guidelines, this is about what to do when an employee comes out to you. That’s it.
(Just as a side note, here’s the eternal, self-answering question: If our opponents have such a good case, why must they tell lies?)
DOJ Pride offers further guidance:
- If an employee comes to your office, closes the door, and says “I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while: I’m gay,” DO thank them for trusting you enough to tell you, ask if they’ve been made to feel safe and welcome in the workplace, and let them know about DOJ Pride.
- Sometimes the best reaction is a “non-reaction,” meaning not silence but a matter-of-fact, don’t-skip-a-beat response. For example, if an employee mentions her same-sex partner in passing, as in “My partner Janet and I saw the best movie this weekend,” DO react the way you would had she said “My husband Jeremy and I saw the best movie this weekend.” Ask about the movie, where they saw it, if they went out to dinner beforehand, etc.
What a strange world our opponents inhabit, where treating your gay staff the same way you treat your straight staff is some kind of special treatment and celebration of LGBT pride.
But what if you’re a manager who thinks personal lives shouldn’t be mentioned in the workplace? Simple — follow the guidance and treat everyone the same: impose this gag order on all employees, gay or straight (though I’ve never worked in such a hellhole).
Also, let’s be clear on this freedom of speech issue. If you’re at the office and your employee tells you, “We had my son’s bris on Saturday,” don’t silently ignore them and certainly don’t say, “You know if he doesn’t get baptized by a real minister he’s going to Hell, right?” Because you don’t always get to say any damn thing you want to at work, not when your job as manager is to foster a healthy work environment, not when that’s what you’ve been hired to do. This isn’t widely or wildly controversial — until it comes to gay people.
But Barber and NOM continue in their break from reality:
- “DO assume that LGBT employees and their allies are listening to what you’re saying (whether in a meeting or around the proverbial water cooler) and will read what you’re writing (whether in a casual email or in a formal document), and make sure the language you use is inclusive and respectful.”
Is this the DOJ or the KGB? “[A]ssume that LGBT employees are listening …”?
You thought my Soviet Union crack was parody, didn’t you. But no. Good lord, apparently it’s now a sign of LGBT-tyranny for us to listen when people speak and read what they write.
This is paranoia. This is why we speak of bigotry and homophobia, of psychological issues that run so deep its victims (and I mean the homophobes themselves) break from reality and drop into an abyss of derangement.
It’s not just NOM. Barber’s cry against tyranny has swept through the blogosphere. And some of these people who are so upset often are our bosses, our managers, our colleagues. It’s a great reminder for us. However far we’ve come, there’s still a population out there who feels the boot of oppression when they’re told to treat gay people like…people.
A Conversation, Not a Lecture
May 8th, 2013
I’m thinking we could start a whole new blog about all the things our opponents do that doom them to failure. For instance, right now the National Organization is pushing really hard on a strategy that seems to assume no one actually knows any gay people.
NOM, you understand, has proof — proof! — that gays just want to destroy marriage. It comes from a lesbian activist I’d never heard of, Masha Gessen, who spoke at the Sydney Writers’ Festival (which, despite its name, is apparently where All Official Pronouncements of the Gay Agenda come from):
It’s a no-brainer that (homosexuals) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.
NOM takes this statement as proof that:
Same-sex marriage activists certainly do want marriage …but not for the reasons you might think.
And this is a:
…frank (but honest) statement of a viewpoint more common than most people think among those who purport to favor same-sex marriage.
“Purport”? Nice word choice. And finally:
The fact is that ending marriage as we know it is a stated objective of the people pushing this agenda!
[All emphasis theirs.]
A few decades ago, NOM could have lectured America about Masha Gessen and it very well may have worked. But not anymore, because NOM doesn’t seem to understand that in 2013 we’re having a conversation, not lecture. A few decades ago, most people only heard about gays and lesbians from our opponents. Today, though, a huge segment of the straight population now has the power to find a gay person they trust and simply ask: “Hey, you really looking to destroy marriage?” But do they even need to?
Will’s conservative family doesn’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
My co-workers don’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
The neighbors who bring their dogs to our home for playdates don’t think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage.
All these people take Will and me more seriously than they do Masha Gessen, and NOM merely destroys its credibility when it tells them Will and I are lying. The only people who think Will and I are trying to destroy marriage are those who don’t know us, who aren’t friends with gay people, who are so insulated they can view teh gays as an abstraction instead of someone they sit with at lunch or family dinners. And that backward population — that population is shrinking.
Our Opponents’ Confessions
May 7th, 2013
Sometimes I hear a line of reasoning so bizarre that all I can do is look for the psychological issues behind it. I find this happening quite a lot with opponents of same-sex marriage, and the irony is that often their stated goal is to offer an objective justification for their beliefs, but what they deliver is so idiosyncratic, so utterly dependent on a strange and subjective inner life, that all they end up doing is proving their own irrelevance.
Look at three cases: Doug Mainwaring, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, and Robert George. Each of them says something that actually turns out to be true — true for them, true of them — but in a sad and sometimes baffling way.
Doug Mainwaring is one of NOM’s favorite homosexuals; he gives testimony against same-sex marriage. Apparently he married, had a child, left the family to be one of those hedonistic gays, and then reunited everyone under the same roof in a sexless relationship with his wife so that his offspring could be raised by Mom and Dad. And you know what? Fine. But then he writes this:
Over the last couple of years, I’ve found our decision to rebuild our family ratified time after time. One day as I turned to climb the stairs I saw my sixteen-year-old son walk past his mom as she sat reading in the living room. As he did, he paused and stooped down to kiss her and give her a hug, and then continued on. With two dads in the house, this little moment of warmth and tenderness would never have occurred. My varsity-track-and-football-playing son and I can give each other a bear hug or a pat on the back, but the kiss thing is never going to happen. To be fully formed, children need to be free to generously receive from and express affection to parents of both genders. Genderless marriages deny this fullness.
Well, one thing’s for sure. With Doug Mainwaring for his dad, that kid definitely needs a second parent in the house. Doug ought to be saying this in shame as a confession of his inadequate parenting. But it never occurs to him that many fathers — conservative, heterosexual fathers included — are quite comfortable giving their sons a kiss and a hug.
This, by the way, is another example of why we’ll win: another statement by another opponent guaranteed not to persuade, but to garner a reaction of what-planet-are-you-from?
The takeaway: When Doug Mainwaring talks about the limitations of having two fathers, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien
Former Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland made the news into two completely different, shocking but not entirely surprising ways. First, he opposed same-sex marriage in the UK, calling it grotesque, analogizing it to slavery, and declaring same-sex civil unions to be:
…harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.
And less than a year later, O’Brien was forced to resign due to a long history of making unwanted sexual advances to priests, and for having been physically involved with one of his accusers for years.
Now that O’Brien has been humbled I can look at him with pity. He was so twisted by his beliefs that any half-relationship he could could dare to attempt would inevitably be “harmful to the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of those involved.”
The takeway: When Cardinal Keith O’Brien talks about the harm done by gay relationships, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Robert George is a distinguished Princeton professor who writes terrible, almost incoherent Natural Law arguments against homosexuality, birth control, and masturbation. His goal is to show that Catholic teaching can be derived rationally.
His work is a lot like what would happen if I heard about a Ryan Gosling kissing booth: my goal would be just to get there, no matter how labored, tortuous, or ridiculous the route. It’s the same way with Robert George and the view that masturbation is wrong: The Church says it is, so that’s his destination, and it doesn’t matter labored, tortuous, or ridiculous his reasoning, as long as he gets there.
Here are some key quotes:
The body is not rightly treated as a machine for having experiences…
[I]t is contrary to reason—bad and immoral—to sacrifice one’s psychosomatic integrity, or to instrumentalize a part of oneself, for the sake of some desired experience, whether it is getting drunk, enjoying a psychedelic drug trip or having an orgasm…
In masturbation and other non-marital sex acts, by contrast, ‘one does not choose to act for a goal which fulfills oneself as a unified, bodily person. The only immediate goal is satisfaction for the conscious self; and so the body, not being part of the whole for whose sake the act is done, serves only as an extrinsic instrument.’…
[Acts like masturbation] damage personal integrity insofar as those acts effect an existential alienation of the body from the conscious self by simply using the body as an experience-inducing machine. Thus, such behavior should, for moral reasons, be avoided.
In case that’s opaque, here’s my brief (and surely inadequate) summary:
- Having an integrated mind and body is self-evidently good. Thus anything which breaks that integration is bad.
- Masturbation means the mind is treating the body like an instrument for its conscious gratification, thus alienating the body from the mind and destroying that self-evidently good gratification, making it harmful and immoral.
- This is also true of gay sex or any other sex act that doesn’t culminate with a married penis in its married vagina.
Robert George’s logic on sex is unfathomable to me. I read his words but doubt my understanding because they so completely contradict the experience of my own life. It’s like reading an intricately-reasoned argument that you shouldn’t keep elephants in your house because they’re too small to keep track of; there’s no need to dismantle the argument line by line — it’s enough to answer, “Have you seen an elephant?” Or, in George’s case, “Have you had sex?”
Sex, with someone you love, purely for emotional closeness, does not split the mind and body. It unites them. It dissolves the barriers between body, spirit, and mind.
And masturbation? Masturbation is one way the mind discovers the body. It can be something you do to clean the pipes and stop your body from yelling at you, but it can also be — for adolescents, especially — a fundamental way of exploring your entire self. Not just mind, not just body, not just emotion, but all three at once.
So all I can do is wonder at the inner life of a man who not only came up with this reasoning, but who thought it would convince others. This speculation is worth what you paid for it, but here’s my best attempt: I can imagine a man who has been taught that masturbation is wrong, sinful, wicked. It exposes weakness of mind and character. He tries to abstain, but every time he gives in he’s hit with guilt, and his conscious mind feels betrayed by his body. And that, folks, is mind-body alienation.
The takeway: When Robert George talks about the morality of sex, he’s just telling us something about himself.
Of course, when all of us talk about sex or love or family, we’re really just telling people something about ourselves. We know this. The last few generations who’ve grown to adulthood know this (most of them, anyway). The only people who don’t know this, it seems, are our opponents.
NOM Exec: Should Conservative Women Just Shut Up and Have Babies?
May 3rd, 2013
Perhaps I’m overstating what NOM executive Jennifer Roback Morse said in an email blast today. I’ll just post it without further comment; all emphasis in the original and, no, this is not a parody:
The Social Conservative movement is dominated by women. Every audience I address, the ratio is at least two to one female, sometimes much more.
Is that a bad thing? And what can we do about it?
We want to have our babies, and be supported by our husbands in stable lifelong loving marriages. It is no surprise that we care about the social issues.
You and I know that men care too. They want their babies. And if they don’t want to get married as badly as we do, once they do get married, they are often more doggedly loyal and committed than we are. Divorce triples a man’s probability of suicide, but doesn’t affect women’s suicide risk at all!! The guys definitely care!
Feminists have marginalized men from these conversations. They called any men who disagreed with them “male chauvinist pigs.” Men came to feel they were not welcome to express reservations about the radical feminist agenda. And since men have a natural, almost instinctive desire to please women, protect women, and not anger them,
men shut down and shut up.
I think it is a bad thing!
Shutting up the men is a great defense. Getting men off the playing field leaves women with children alone to defend themselves against the radical women who view children as enemies to their ambitions.
So, what can we do about it?
Invite your husband or boyfriend, sons, nephews or fathers, to the First Ever Ruth Institute Gala Dinner and Live Auction. Why? Because this will not be your average “lovey dovey hearts and flowers, let’s all be nice to kids” event. (Though, there will be flowers on the table!)
WE ARE HAVING A VERY MASCULINE
MAN’S MAN AS OUR KEYNOTE SPEAKER.
You may have seen Tim Clemente on CNN, giving his expert opinion about capturing the Boston Marathon Bombers. He’s a former counter-terrorism agent for the FBI. That expertise got him into Hollywood, as a technical consultant on law enforcement and military issues. Producer, writer, actor and stuntman: those are just some of his roles in Hollywood.
Robert Gagnon Explains Why Consensual Gay Relationships Are Worse Than Bestiality and Incest
May 1st, 2013
Jeremy Hooper was forwarded a lengthy email chain sent to over seventy social conservative anti-gay activists in advance of the National Organization for Marriage’s Ruth Institute’s conference at the end of May. Among those receiving the email chain was Exodus International Alan Chambers, who tired of the anti-gay rhetoric and, after asking to be removed from the chain, finally added Hooper’s email address to it. In one email response, Robert Gagnon called Chambers to task for “secretly adding the name of someone whose whole objective is to promote sexually immoral behavior and abuse those who uphold what Jesus and Scripture regarded as sacred.” Gagnon also went on to justify his use of the word “perverse” to describe gay people:
The verb “to pervert” is from the Latin meaning “to turn thoroughly,” i.e. away from the truth or right course of action. Applied to sexual practice, a perversion is “any of various means of obtaining sexual gratification that are generally regarded as being unnatural or abnormal.” Paul in Scripture makes a point of singling out homosexual practice as sexual behavior that is manifestly contrary to nature in that it is clear that a man and a woman are sexual complements or counterparts, not males with males or females with females. He als refers to such behavior as self-”dishonoring” (Atimazo / atimia) and as “indecent/shameful behavior” (askhemosune). The Levitical prohibitions and some Deuteronomical texts add the description of to’evah, something abominable or abhorrent to God. The latter (along with Revelation) adds the epithet of of “dogs” to men who actively emasculate their appearance to attract male sex partners in a cultic context, treating themselves as “sacred” (hence the Hebrew name qedeshim). Bestiality is an even more unnatural form of sexual practice since it is cross-species. Adult-consensual incest is also a particularly perverse form of sexual practice since it involves sex with someone who is too much of a familial same. But Scripture treats homosexual practice as even more severely unnatural because the male-female requirement for sexual relations is foundational for all that follows (so Genisis and Jesus) and because sex or gender is a more constituent feature of sexual behavior than kinship.
It is my contention that homosexual practice is a more serious violation of Scripture’s sexual norms than even incest, adultery, plural marriage, and divorce. (The reader will note that I did not mention bestiality because the evidence from ancient Israel and early Judaism suggests that bestiality is a worse offense than same-sex intercourse.) [Emphasis in the original]
I guess in the six years since then Gagnon’s sorted out God’s mind on bestiality and, unsurprisingly, Gagnon’s God now agrees with Gagnon that gays are worse.
In addition to Gagnon’s close association with the NOM, he is also a founding board member of Restored Hope Network, comprised of a group of break-away ex-gay ministries which left Exodus International after Exodus president Alan Chambers acknowledged that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Chambers also repudiated the particular type of counseling intended to change sexual orientation known as Reparative Therapy, and he has declared that Exodus will no longer take sides in the political debates surrounding gay rights, including marriage rights.
Don’t be fooled by pretty talk, NOM opposes ANY rights for same-sex couples
April 30th, 2013
The National Organization for Marriage often pretends that they don’t oppose same-sex couple having some accomodations for their relationship, they just want to defend the definition of marriage. They lie.
As an illustration, today NOMBlog has a commentary about the ruling by the Texas Attorney General that cities and municipalities cannot offer any rights to same-sex couples.
In a six-page opinion, Abbott found that the constitution “prohibits political subdivisions from creating a legal status of domestic partnership and recognizing that status by offering public benefits based upon it.” He said city governments and school districts constitute political subdivisions.
That was a news report about Abbott’s position. But this is what NOM itself had to say:
Patrick is concerned that Texas law states “cities, counties and school districts cannot subvert the will of Texans” but that this is precisely what is happening in those municipalities and school districts which offer same-sex partner benefits.
The petty snideness is hard to miss. Don’t be fooled by the pretty words they use in the press; NOM has never met a lie that they thought was prohibited by the Bible.
The Gay Liberation of Straight Men
April 19th, 2013
I’ve discovered that NOM’s new official expert, Anthony Esolen, is so wrong about so many things that you can gain insight just by contemplating the opposite of what he says.
Back in 2006, Anthony offered 10 non-religious reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. Here’s #5:
It will curtail opportunities for deep and emotionally fulfilling friendships between members of the same sex, opportunities that are already few and strained. This is particularly true of men.
This was a disastrous prediction. It’s not just that his reasoning is convoluted, but that events have proved him laughably wrong.
As you may know, it’s tough to summarize Anthony’s arguments. He never uses one word when twenty will do, and he’s never seen a paragraph he couldn’t improve by stretching it with flowery repetition. Here, though, is the meat:
…now the condonement of homosexuality prevents [boys] from publicly preferring the company of their own sex. This is simply inarguable. If a George Gershwin nowadays shows up at Maxie Rosenzweig’s house all the time, while his pals are outside on the streets playing stickball, then there must be something up with George and Maxie.
And then, apparently without realizing it, Anthony proceeds to refute himself:
Therefore unless they are comfortable with the meaning, they will shy away from one another.
Exactly. Really, I wish I could put my hands on Anthony’s shoulders, look him deep in the eye, and say, “Exactly. The problem arises not when homosexuality is condoned, but when it is condemned.”
For instance: I’m not straight, left-handed, or Canadian. But rumors to the contrary wouldn’t freak me out, and certainly wouldn’t make me change my actions or associations — because I don’t see anything wrong with those traits, and neither does the society in which I travel.
However, if I lived in a world where I could be shunned, disowned, fired, or lobotomized just for being left-handed…then, yeah, I might be more worried about people thinking I’m a left-handed deviant monster, and might work harder to squelch those rumors.
Fast forward to 2013. Same-sex marriage is legal in much of the country; we’ve had 7-years of non-stop national conversation about gays and lesbians; and a new generation has matured thinking, What’s the big friggin’ deal.
The result? A culture where people talk freely of man crushes and bromance. A culture in which one of the most popular TV shows is practically built around the friendship and spicy, flirtatious chemistry between two of its handsome and avowedly heterosexual stars.
Granted, this pop culture phenomenon isn’t on the same plane as the friendships Anthony pines for – David and Jonathan, Enkidu and Gilgamesh, John the Baptist and Jesus Christ (!) — but the fact that cannot be denied (the thing that is “simply inarguable”) is that men are freer to delight in each other than at any time in recent memory. And Anthony Esolen, god bless him, may misunderstand it completely but has pointed out the reason for this liberation: Straight men find it easier to create intimate, loving friendships when they have no reason to give a damn whether people think they’re gay.
They’re Just Making Stuff Up
April 16th, 2013
Anthony Esolen is a literature professor at Providence College, a Catholic school in Rhode Island. He’s joined NOM as “the latest addition to the Ruth Institute Circle of Experts” and, well, he’s not off to a good start.
His first contribution is a long, meandering complaint that lust is bad and dominating our culture, while romantic love is good but on the wane. Esolen goes on and on, writing sentence after sentence, each more vague, transcendent, and floppy than the last, until finally you wonder if he’s an actual English professor or just a fictional creation meant to parody one. Here’s a sample:
Beasts copulate; but men and women are meant to marry. They perform the marital act; they know, when they unite in that act, that it is, or it ought to be, the seal of a love that, to quote another of Shakespeare’s sonnets, “bears it out even to the edge of doom.” We are the creatures aware of time, and oriented toward eternity. We know that the act of marriage brings into the bond of love the past generations, whose history we bear in our loins, and the present, and the future, in the child that may be born of the act. We cannot copulate! We cannot forget, when we unite, that we are doing what our parents did…
And I had to stop there because it’s just too funny. It’s a mark of how bad Anthony Esolen’s writing is, this unintended statement that whenever he has sex he can’t stop thinking about his parents (wasn’t there a Friends episode about that?). And, of course, the exclamation point in “We cannot copulate!”
He gives us nearly 1500 words of this, but the very beginning is what really sets me off:
Several weeks ago, Saint Valentine’s Day at my school came and went. There was no dance. There was no concert. There was no ice cream social. There was no party for trading little gifts. There was no showing of She Wore a Yellow Ribbon or Marty or Goodbye, Mr. Chips or Casablanca. There were no foolish and innocent flirtations on the way to class.
I can believe — though I heartily doubt — Esolen went to the trouble of confirming there was no dance, no concert, no ice cream social, no special screening. I do have to wonder how he determined no one threw a party to trade little gifts (though between that and the ice cream social, it sounds like he’s confusing young adults celebrating their love with second-graders in homeroom).
I draw the line, however, at believing there was nobody flirted with anybody on their way to class. That’s when I realized: Anthony Esolen has nothing to say. He’s just sitting at his desk, making crap up. Perhaps he meant this as a poetic flourish or hyperbole, but if so it’s bad poetic flourish and lame hyperbole.
I guess this is trivial, but it’s also symptomatic of a bigger problem: The anti-gay movement in general has nothing left to say. They’re left with meaningless rhetoric or outright lies — as when their attorney at the Supreme Court argued DOMA wasn’t borne out of anti-gay animus, but simply a desire to standardize marriage law across states, or just the other day when NOM falsely claimed once again that the Regnerus and Sirota studies were about same-sex parenting.
If I’ve grown more snarky lately (and I have) it’s because our opponents have stopped giving us red meat to chew over. It’s all cotton candy from them now. Just wave your hand through it and you’re left with nothing but a stickly, sickly mess.
Maine Supremes hear NOM’s argument about why they alone don’t have to follow campaign law
April 11th, 2013
The State of Maine requires that campaigns disclose their contributors. The National Organization for Marriage pretends not to think that they are required to follow that law by engaging in a two step contribution process.
The campaign for banning equality in Maine was a separate organization from NOM. But NOM was their primary (almost exclusive) funder. So contributions were made to NOM and then NOM gave money to the campaign and the campaign only disclosed that NOM was it’s funder, thus keeping the identity of the
Catholic Church original contributor secret.
NOM is arguing that they have no obligation to report the donors, as they were just regular ol’ contributions made for NOM’s general purpose, not targeted contributions to oppose equality in Maine. But the state isn’t buying it and the courts have ruled against NOM in every instance.
Their last ditch resistance is today, where they will make their losing argument one more time, this time to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. I anticipate that the Supreme Court will not find their duplicity any more compelling than have the lower courts or the Federal Court.
Much credit for this situation goes to Fred Karger, who filed the complaints and has consistently pushed for NOM to be transparent.
Help me contact Thomas Peters at NOM!
April 4th, 2013
I’ll have to push today’s video for the National Marriage Organization to tomorrow. Unlike my allies, Brian Brown and Thomas Peters of NOM, I don’t get paid to do this, and thus have other work to complete.
Speaking of Thomas Peters, could you all help me out? Thomas made me sad the other day when he tweeted this:
most gay activists who attack me have less than 10 followers. They don’t even have the courage to say mean things with their real account!
— Thomas Peters (@AmericanPapist) April 2, 2013
Actually, it wasn’t Thomas Peters who made me sad, but the gay activists who mocked him for this tweet. See, apparently Thomas’ very big brain is so very strained with his many main arguments against same-sex marriage that he has forgotten about his very sensible policy of blocking gay activists who address him with their real accounts.
I mean, he did that to me, and I totally deserved it. What kind of decent person would ambush the Communications Director of an organization by calling him at work to ask about one of the organization’s communications?
But I also realized — now that I’m blocked I have no way of telling Thomas I’ve switched to his side! Since I don’t have a video to post today, would you mind taking those 60 seconds to tweet one or more of my videos to Thomas? And also to NOM?
I’d surely appreciate it. I feel confident in saying my little videos completely capture the spirit and depth of their organization.
PS Here are some short links for you:
- Redefining marriage: http://goo.gl/mVmp5
- Think of the children: http://goo.gl/QQVlO
- Leviticus: http://goo.gl/zzXY6
NOM’s idiotic trumpeting of a mangled third hand report
March 27th, 2013
You have to love this declaration from NOM:
UKDailyMail: “Christian Opponents Easily Outnumbering Advocates for Gay Marriage”
It all started with Yahoo’s Chris Moody reporting an incident in the events of yesterday. He followed the NOM marchers’ progress:
When members of the crowd rose, they pressed on further down the street, where they were met by another small group of people that had stretched out a rainbow flag in front of them. When they refused to budge from the street, NOM organizers urged everyone to just go around them.
From which the Daily Mail, apparently not present and completely unaware of any other media coverage on the planet, extrapolated to mean:
Both sides of the debate were out in force, with Christian opponents easily outnumbering advocates for gay marriage.
And which led the integrity-deprived National Organization to pretend as though it were true. Personally, I’d be embarrassed to engage in such shameless behavior.
And I can’t help but wonder: if your pants are forever aflame, does that mean that you’re already in hell?
NOM Rallied Today
March 26th, 2013
After their march, the National Organization for Marriage – along with their various supporting organizations – rallied to protect marriage from being equally applied to all citizens.
The Red Caped Loons of the Catholic organization, Tradition, Values & Property, were present
The rally surrounded the bandbox.
And they certainly had plenty of space in which to congregate.
But it’s nice to see that not much grass was damaged.
NOM Marched today
March 26th, 2013
The National Organization for Marriage has been declaring that they were going to turn out busloads of people to march on the Supreme Court to protect traditional marriage (in the fine old tradition of keeping rights limited to the people who they think are better than you). And they have posted pictures on their NOMblog showing their glorious march.
For Example: (NOMblog)
But NOM’s pics tend to be close up and don’t give much of a sense of size. That’s not to say there aren’t any large group pics in their photostream, but those tend to be problematic; they have rainbow flags and “Equality Now” signs in them.
Fortunately, a BTB reader had a birds eye view of NOM’s march and has offered to share some pictures that give some perspective to their “busloads”. Here they start marching past:
There they go, banners unfurled.
And the middle of the pack.
And finally, the last of the saints go straggling by.
And after months of preparation and “busloads” of support, that was their march, pretty much in total.
No, it’s not exactly pathetic; thirty or forty people would be pathetic. At what looks to me to be a few thousand people, this was … well, let’s just say Brian Brown probably found it to be a bit of a disappointing turnout.
But I fully expect NOM to claim “hundreds of thousands”.
250,000 Children? Piffle!
March 24th, 2013
I might have a little crush on NOM’s Communications Director, Thomas Peters — or perhaps I just mean it’s been a long time since a 30-year-old has given me such delight. And he continues to deliver.
NOM posted this excerpt of an NPR story on their blog (sorry, they didn’t link to the story itself). As you read, keep in mind they’re happy about what it says:
Surveys suggest that kids younger than 18 in same-sex families still number fewer than a quarter-million.
“It’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent,” says Thomas Peters of the National Organization for Marriage, a leading group opposing same-sex marriage.
“The difference is that children raised by gay parents are very much in the media’s eye,” he says. “We see it on Modern Family. We see this hugely blown out of proportion. It’s why, by the way, in Gallup [polls], Americans believe that a third to a fourth of Americans are gay.”
Don’t you see Peters’ point? Let me paraphrase: We’re only denying family protections to a quarter of a million kids! That’s 250 thousand, not, like 250 gazillion! That’s barely the population of Orlando, only about 60,000 more people than live in Salt Lake City. What’s all this fuss over just a quarter of million kids? I mean, a quarter is somewhere around 25 cents, and nobody even cares about pennies!
And NOM — which is all about the kids, right? — is highlighting Peters’ quote, not apologizing for it.
Herein lies NOM’s strange and revealing contradiction. Peters, in this quote, is minimizing not just the number of kids in same-sex homes, but the number of gays as well, presumably to give the impression that this population of children is unlikely to grow. Factor in NOM’s other rhetoric, and you’re left with this:
- We need to ban same-sex marriage because every child deserves a mother and father, and every child is important.
- We can refute the need for same-sex marriage because only a quarter of a million kids are raised in such households, and they can be dismissed as “a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent.”
It seems the importance of children to NOM depends entirely on their argument of the moment.
Along these lines I’d like to detour for a moment into another NOM post called, “Examples of Excellent Testimony Against SSM in Minnesota” (their title, not mine). They approvingly quote this bit from Doug Mainwaring, their favorite gay who opposes gay marriage:
Doug (gay man): “marriage isn’t about love, commitment and responsibility–it’s about kids. Ignore the media push and adult demands for same-sex marriage.”
That is one of their “examples of excellent testimony.” It leaves me thinking NOM has no idea why married parents are such a good thing for kids. Of course, it’s perfectly in line with Thomas Peters’ recent tweet about marriage: “Orientation doesnt matter, sexual difference does!”
Yeah. Marriage is all about the kids. But for NOM, apparently, a loveless, uncommitted, irresponsible opposite-sex couple is better for those kids than any same-sex couple you can find, because sexual difference matters so much more than those trivial concerns.
I’ll be keeping an eye on Thomas Peters. It’s fun. My only worry is that NOM could realize something might be wrong if your opponents are eager to publicize everything your Communications Director has to say.
I don’t know how to argue with that.
March 22nd, 2013
As long as I’m all a-twitter, I might as well share this new gem from NOM’s Communications Director (whose posts I can read but am blocked from responding to):
if humans were divided into BLUE&RED, instead of MALE&FEMALE, marriage would =1Blue+1Red. Orientation doesnt matter, sexual difference does!
— Thomas Peters (@AmericanPapist) March 22, 2013
I don’t know how to argue with that. Literally. I don’t know how to argue with that.
Now if we could just get him in front of the Supreme Court.
The truth, but just half the truth, and nothing but half the truth.
March 22nd, 2013
The New York Times published a profile of NOM president Brian Brown today. The author interviewed quite a few gay bloggers about him, but little of that information appeared in the piece. It’s all very nice that she told hers reader we think Brown is dishonest, but why should they believe us? She’d have done her readers (and her story) a greater service if she’d pointed out some of his lies so they could sort reality from hearsay.
So, for the sake of a more complete account, here’s an email I sent her shortly after our interview. It’s a nice little gallery of horrors.
It was a pleasure talking to you today. If your focus is Prop 8, it turns out I do have something for you. NOM filed an amicus brief when Prop 8 went to appeal, and I take it apart here:
Also, here are the other links I mentioned:
NOM’s history of untruth
- http://wakingupnow.com/blog/noms-long-and-profitable-history-of-deceit (the list is halfway down the entry)
NOM’s history of violent and vilifying rhetoric
Speakers at NOM’s March for Marriage who have invoked Satan when it comes to gays
- NOM’s list of speakers: http://www.marriagemarch.org/speakers/
- Jim Garlow on Satan: ““So if I were Satan, if I were the Devil, I’d want to destroy the imagery of male and female coming together with light and joy, covenantal marriage on Earth.” http://www.glaad.org/cap/jim-garlow
- Harry Jackson on Satan: “…“a satanic plot to destroy our seed.” http://www.glaad.org/cap/harry-jackson
And just in general, this is a great resource for researching inflammatory rhetoric:
A couple of the more inflammatory NOM paid staffers:
On the Regnerus study:
Problems with the study:
NOM’s misrepresentation of the study:
- http://www.riformarriage.com/site/607/ (NOM doesn’t reference Regnerus by name, but refers to his study when they say “The following graphs have been based on information from the “New Family Structures Study” found here: http://www.riformarriage.com/site/431/ This study was published in the well respected social science journal “Social Science Research” on June 10 2012.”
Please feel free to call if you need anything else.
Thomas Peters Update
March 22nd, 2013
I’m trying to come up with some sort of pun using the term “facts evasion.” Because, you know, it sounds a bit like “tax evasion,” right? Right? No?
After posting my conversation with NOM’s Communications Director Thomas Peters yesterday, I alerted him to its existence:
— Rob Tisinai (@robtish) March 22, 2013
In response, he blocked me.
That’s probably the sensible move for him, on a number of levels. But it does nothing to change my judgment that Thomas’ primary strategy for dealing with inconvenient reality is simply to ignore it. Once again, it seems NOM is guilty of facts evasion.
No? Still no? Really?
I might need some help with that one.
I Spoke to NOM Today!
March 21st, 2013
The National Organization for Marriage has been spreading a host of falsehoods about research into same-sex parenting. Every so I often I lob a tweet about this to Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director. He never replies, which is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to know what he’d say when confronted with these blatant…inaccuracies.
And now I know. [Spoiler alert: He doesn't say, "Oh, we're awful, and I'll fix it right away!']
It began this morning when reader/warrior StraightGrandmother directed me to Maggie Gallagher in the National Review:
There are at least four reviews or studies in peer-reviewed literature that contest the claim that children do equally well with same-sex parents. (Regnerus, Marks, Sirota, Allen). None of which are mentioned by the American Academy of Pediatricians in their endorsement of gay marriage. They cannot cite a single scientific study in a peer-reviewed journal showing children with gay parents are better off if their parents are considered legally married. None of this matters. How serious are we about children’s well-being in this country?
Then I found this new press release on NOM’s website:
One recent large-scale random sample study that has been produced by University of Texas researchers found that those raised in a same-sex household fared worse than those raised in intact heterosexual families on two-thirds of outcomes measured. Nowhere in the AAP statement do they address the confounding scientific evidence by Regnerus, Marks, Sirota and Allen — all published in peer-reviewed journals. The AAP simply ignores them.
I know a bit about Regnerus and Sirota. Their studies tell us nothing about same-sex parenting. I called the phone number on the press release and spoke to a very nice press rep. She told me I should talk to Thomas Peters and gave me the number to his office. And I was all, Goody!
Well, Thomas was reluctant from the start: I’m not a journalist, he doesn’t do impromptu interviews, and I should direct my questions to their press reps. I said a press rep had directed me to him. He hesitantly agreed to a conversation and asked whether I were recording it (no) and whether I were okay with him recording it (of course!).
I referred him to the press release quote above and asked if he were aware that the Sirota study did not look at same-sex parents. He slowly said no (I believe him) and asked what it did look at. I told him Sirota compared kids raised by straight dads with those raised by gay dads, but in both cases the dads were married to the mothers, so the study was really about opposite-sex parenting.
He told me he didn’t write the press release.
When I told him Regnerus hadn’t specified any results for kids raised by same-sex parents, he quickly agreed (that’s why I believed him about Sirota) and accurately characterized the study as looking at kids with a parent who’d had a same-sex relationship. I told him that NOM’s Rhode Island branch wasn’t describing it that way — they were falsely attributing these results to kids raised by lesbian couples.
At this point NOM’s Communications Officer told me if I had a problem with what NOM Rhode Island was saying I should talk to NOM Rhode Island.
(This was actually a screw-up on my part: I didn’t need to bring up NOM-RI. This falsehood was promulgated in the press release above!)
I pressed Thomas on the content of these studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s broader point that the AAP had simply ignored other research when they issued their politically-motivated endorsement. That sent me back into the details of studies and he fell back to affirming NOM’s other broader point that there isn’t a lot of good research on the topic at all and I wondered whether that meant he was saying these studies supposedly against same-sex marriage weren’t good, either, and he said this was turning into more of a lecture than an interview, on which point he was probably correct, and he firmly and emphatically but not impolitely ended the call.
So now I know what Thomas Peters will do when confronted with NOM’s falsehoods: He’ll act like facts don’t matter.
He won’t dispute the facts. He won’t admit NOM has the facts wrong. He won’t take responsibility for how the facts are communicated. Instead he’ll evade. He’ll change the subject. He’ll strategically retreat to discussing NOM’s broader points in order to avoid getting mired in the tiny points. Like facts.
Now, remember, I didn’t record the call, so I’m recounting this from memory. And I’m editorializing (just a bit?). But that, of course, is why Thomas records this sort of call. And if Thomas would like to release the entire, unedited audio of the conversation, I hereby grant him permission.
Somebody please let me know if he does.
Cue the calliope – NOM reacts to Portman
March 15th, 2013
We’re quite accustomed to the National Organization for Marriage saying things that are, shall we say, creative in their approach to facts. To put it in religious terms, the like to walk by faith, not by sight.
But today’s response to Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announcing his support for equality is wacky to the point of clown car, looney toons, bad 70′s Disney annimation, complete wackadoodleness.
A spokesman for the National Organization for Marriage on Friday slammed Sen. Rob Portman, who has announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his long-held opposition to the issue.
“What Mr. Portman is doing is shrinking the size of the GOP tent,” charged Thomas Peters, a spokesman for the socially conservative NOM, in an interview with POLITICO. “I think it will have huge consequences if he chooses to run again.”
Sure, maybe there on Planet Completelynutso it would shrink the tent to include the majority of people who support equality. Maybe in Delusionville it’s a smart long term plan to side with the elderly and ignore everyone under 40.
But back here in reality, I’m beginning to think that Thomas Peters is in the market for a good tinfoil hat.