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Posts for March, 2013

NOM’s idiotic trumpeting of a mangled third hand report

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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

Timothy Kincaid

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!

Rob Tisinai

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.

Rob Tisinai

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):

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.

Rob Tisinai

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.


Hi Sheryl,

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:

http://wakingupnow.com/blog/nomsense-plain-and-simple-minded

Also, here are the other links I mentioned:

NOM’s history of untruth

NOM’s history of violent and vilifying rhetoric

Speakers at NOM’s March for Marriage who have invoked Satan when it comes to gays

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:

Please  feel free to call if you need anything else.

Best,
Rob

 

Thomas Peters Update

Rob Tisinai

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?

Anyway.

After posting my conversation with NOM’s Communications Director Thomas Peters yesterday, I alerted him to its existence:

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!

Rob Tisinai

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.

Whew.

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

Timothy Kincaid

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.

As NOM often tells us, married people live longer

Timothy Kincaid

March 14th, 2013

The National Organization for Marriage often touts the statistical advantages of marriage. For example, this is from their fact sheet, Why Marriage Matters:

Both men and women who marry live longer, healthier and happier lives. On virtually every measure of health and well-being, married people are better-off than otherwise similar singles, on average.

Which is, to my way of thinking, a good reason to support marriage equality. Unless, I suppose, you don’t want gay people to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

But I think NOM would counter that these statistics of benefit only apply to heterosexual marriages. And it is the magical, mystical, godly coming together of penis and vagina that in some unknown way (similar to the power of wearing your lucky socks on game day) gives better lives. I get the sense that they really do think there’s something holy and mysterious about heterosexual married sex.

But they would be wrong. The Danes took a look. (LA Times)

Men in same-sex marriages are living longer, according to Danish researchers, but mortality rates among married lesbians have begun to rise after a long period of decline.

The study, published Tuesday in the International Journal of Epidemiology, used Denmark’s civil registry to follow 6.5 million adults from 1982 to 2011. The study is the first of its kind to examine mortality — the risk of death during a specific period of time — and relationship status for an entire nation.

(What do you bet NOM mentions this study… but only the part about married lesbians mortality beginning to increase.)

And it turns out that it isn’t penis in vagina, after all, that results in longer lives.

Researchers found that marriage in and of itself did not ensure low mortality during the period studied. For instance, opposite-sex married couples who lived apart faced a two-fold increase in their mortality rate.

Also, heterosexual men and women saw a steep jump in their mortality rate during the study period if they were married two or more times. The rate increased 27% for women with each successive marriage, and it increased 16% for men.

And so, with their usual logic, social conservatives will continue to insist that gay men and women leave their partners and live celibately. Or marry someone of the opposite sex – even though they know that this is likely to result in some poor soul’s unhappy divorce and remarriage (and increased mortality).

You’re killing me, NOM, you’re killing me!

NOM plans dramatic revelation of their irrelevancy

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2013

The National Organization for Marriage has a nice long history of illustrating just how few people pay attention to them. There was their multi-state tour of mostly empty city plazas, their bus trip through California for Carly Fiorini in which literally no people showed up at some stops, and their efforts at collecting signatures from people who were willing to pledge to consider buying other brands than General Mills.

But NOM is nothing if not persistent. So now they are planning the grand, dramatic, colossal, ultimate illustration of just how inept, inadequate, and irrelevant they really are. NOM is going to march on Washington.

In the grand tradition of the civil rights marches and the Million Man March and the annual March for Life, NOM is going to have a Marriage March. They even have a charming MooM logo.

Not long ago, I sent you an email hinting that NOM was getting ready to launch some major initiatives. Well, after participating in the March for Life last Friday, I am excited to announce that NOM is putting together a March for Marriage!

It will take place in Washington DC on March 26th — the day the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case. You can go to www.MarriageMarch.org and sign up for information and alerts today!

I’ll be sending you more information in the days and weeks to come… but this is a pivotal moment in the marriage movement — an opportunity to show grassroots support from throughout the nation for marriage just as Proposition 8, the potential Roe v. Wade of marriage, is being considered!

Brian Brown is fresh back from France where hundreds of thousands of Catholics (a million he claims) converged on Paris to demand that marriage be limited to maman and papa. And no doubt he is dreaming that a million American Catholics (and a few Mormons, an Orthodox Jew, and some guy who can pass as Muslim – ya know, multi-faith) will gloriously march on our capital and tell our nation’s politicians and judges that the traditional definition of marriage must be protected from the assault by activist homosexuals.

I’m predicting 100. And I’m in a generous mood.

But I pledge: even though the mainstream media, the religious media, and the random people wandering by with a smart phone will all ignore Brian’s pathetic little effort, we here at Box Turtle Bulletin will give it all the attention it deserves. And if you happen to be in DC on March 26th, please feel free to snap a pic or two and send them our way.

A very very funny comment by NOM

Timothy Kincaid

December 21st, 2012

Over on NOMblog, the page where the National Organization for Marriage (but not yours) reports every moment the anti-gay industry has a tiny temporary advance and rants on with the same tired old objections to reality, they are apoplectic that Newt Gingrich stuck his finger in the air to see which way the wind was blowing and said, “hot damn, that’s a gale, I’d better get on the pro-gay marriage train and fast!”. But amid the shock and horror of Newt, Newt, abandoning them, was this gem:

By an overwhelming 60% margin (according to a national survey conducted by Gingrich’s own pollster, Kellyanne Conway), the American people continue to believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

Ahem… perhaps Gingrich knows better than to believe Conway’s polling precisely because she’s his own pollster.

Chairman of the Board for Hypocrisy

Rob Tisinai

December 13th, 2012

John Eastman is all of the following:

  • Chairman of the Board for the National Organization for Marriage
  • Current professor and former Dean at Chapman University School of Law
  • A specialist in constitutional law and legal history

And…wait, there was one more. Oh, yeah:

  • Another conservative happy to chuck his principles so he can be anti-gay

Eastman has a commentary about Prop 8 in USA Today: “Federal government can define marriage too.” I found it pointless and disjointed, but one paragraph leapt out at me, apparently in defense of DOMA:

And if states have the right to define marriage, doesn’t the federal government have that same right? It’s the constitutional duty of our elected officials to decide what burden taxpayers bear in dealing with same-sex couples. Federal laws encourage men and women to marry and have children because society has a profound interest in ensuring that children are born (to continue society) and then raised by their parents to become responsible adults.

That surprised me. Conservative legal scholars are usually federalists who believe in limiting the federal government’s power to what’s enumerated in the Constitution, leaving everything else to the people or to the states. It would be hypocritical, even bizarre, for a federalist to throw all that out the window with a simple, “And if states have the right to define marriage, doesn’t the federal government have that same right?” Because a federalist would answer that with a firm, “No.” Perhaps even a lifting of the chest, an intake of the breath, a scowl on the brow, and a stern, “Absolutely not!”

So I figured, John Eastman must not be a federalist.

I figured wrong. Eastman isn’t just a federalist — he’s an officer of the Federalist Society. And he’s written passionately about limiting the power of the federal government:

[I]t became and remains one of the most fundamental tenets of our constitutional system of government that the sovereign people delegated to the national government only certain, enumerated powers, leaving the residuum of power to be exercised by the state governments or by the people themselves.

This division of sovereign powers between the two great levels of government was not simply a constitutional add-on, by way of the Tenth Amendment. Rather, it is inherent in the doctrine of enumerated powers embodied in the main body of the  Constitution itself. Article I of the Constitution provides, for example, that “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” And the specific enumeration of powers, found principally in Article I, section 8, was likewise limited.

Of course, when he wrote that he was trying to place limits on federal business regulation. But if that’s his principle, then surely he would apply it consistently. He wouldn’t abandon it just so the federal government could actively limit the rights of gay people. He’d never casually argue a non sequitur like, “And if states have the right to define marriage, doesn’t the federal government have that same right?”

But — ha! — I’m just kidding. John Eastman isn’t a principled conservative. He’s just a professional anti-gay at NOM.

 

NOM responds

Timothy Kincaid

December 7th, 2012

The National Organization for (heterosexual only) Marriage has issued a statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiorari on the Prop 8 and DOMA cases.

“We believe that it is significant that the Supreme Court has taken the Prop 8 case,” said John Eastman, NOM’s chairman and former Dean (and current professor) at Chapman University School of Law. “We believe it is a strong signal that the Court will reverse the lower courts and uphold Proposition 8. That is the right outcome based on the law and based on the principle that voters hold the ultimate power over basic policy judgments and their decisions are entitled to respect.”

Eastman quit the Dean position to run for Attorney General. He lost badly with only 34% of the primary vote.

He also opined about DOMA(3)

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court will review lower-court decisions that invalidate the judgment of the U.S. Congress to define marriage as one man and one woman,” Eastman said. “It’s not the job of federal judges to substitute their views for the policy judgments of the people’s duly elected representatives. We believe the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn this exercise in judicial activism and stop federal judges from legislating from the bench on the definition of marriage. We’re confident the Court will uphold DOMA.”

Which makes me wonder what Eastman thinks is the job of federal judges. It also makes me think that he is likely a phenomenally poor predictor of SCOTUS results. Or indisposed to truthfulness.

That Anti-Gay Double Standard

Rob Tisinai

December 4th, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage is thrilled with a Nevada judge who ruled that banning same-sex marriage does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. NOM’s chairman writes:

In stark contrast to the findings of a rogue judge in California who himself was engaged in a long-term homosexual relationship, the federal court in Nevada has quite properly found that true marriage serves an important public purpose and is entitled to protection.

I’ll pass over the hilarious notion that a judge who wasn’t overturned by the Ninth Circuit Apellate Court is somehow “rogue.” I’m more interested in that side comment:

…who himself was engaged in a long-term homosexual relationship…

You know what he’s implying. Judge Walker had a personal stake in Prop 8, which compromises his ruling. You can certainly dispute that, but for the sake of argument, let’s accept NOM’s principle and apply it to Robert Clive Jones, the Nevada judge whom NOM so deeply admires. What do we find?

  • Robert Clive Jones is Mormon who is active in the church.
  • Robert Clive Jones is married to a woman.

Personally, I have no problem with that. But NOM? Oh my gosh. If NOM is true to its principles then it ought to be in full repudiation mode against the man.

NOM, you see, holds that marriage equality is a threat to religious freedom. It’s probably their central argument these days. And Mormon religious leaders have said the same, and have done so more than once.

This means that as an active Mormon, Jones has a personal stake in the ruling — according to both NOM’s standards and those of his church. Obviously, then, NOM should issue an ad hominem fatwa against him, just as they did against Judge Walker.

No? Not enough?

Then how about this: NOM holds that same-sex marriage is a threat to “traditional” marriage, and Jones is “traditionally” married. In fact, you can find some of this sentiment in Jones’ own ruling:

Should [marriage] be expanded to include same-sex couples with the state’s imprimatur, it is conceivable that a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons would cease to value the civil institution as highly as they previously had and hence enter into it less frequently…

“Conceivable”? I suppose it is, at least in the sense that anything you can describe in words is “conceivable,” in the sense that it’s conceivable North Korea actually has discovered a medieval unicorn lair, but still, we’re not basing our judicial rulings on the possibility.

This conceivable notion is so implausible I have to wonder why Jones considers it “meaningful.” Could it be that Jones is worried he’d value his own marriage less if marriage equality were made law? Once again, there’s a personal interest, a reason for NOM to reject his ruling.

This is all ludicrous, of course. And that’s the point. We let black judges rule on civil rights cases. We let women judges rule on birth control and abortion cases. We let devout judges rule on religious freedom cases. And we let gay judges rule on same-sex marriage cases.

But NOM screams STOP at that last example. Not that NOM has anything against gays. There’s no anti-gay double standard at work. Surely not — NOM is just standing by its principles. Principles they only want to enforce against, well, gays.

 

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