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Posts for October, 2007

Straights Invade Gay Retirement

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2007

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The Los Angeles Times had an article on Friday about the concerns some residents of a Sante Fe gay retirement center had regarding more people moving in that are not gay. New Mexico has a housing non-discrimination policy which forbids the center from denying residency based on sexual orientation.

The controversy may be a bit exagerated as the only ones quoted as concerned later admitted that they did not object to the straight residents that had moved in. Few homophobes seek residency in a center designed for gay folks.

Because my roommate’s grandmother was one of the first heterosexual residents, I can bring you her perspective: the buildings are just the type of home she always dreamed of living in but the food is too fancy and the lecture about lesbian activism wasn’t very useful.

Friday Silliness – Gay Fathers

Timothy Kincaid

October 5th, 2007

Often those who seek to condemn gay men and women without reverting to quoting Scripture will argue that homosexuality is not a benefit to society because it does not result in procreation. Well, I’ve seen some of their children – running through the restaurant screaming. And I’m not all that convinced that they are such a benefit to society.

However, I do know of some fathers who were homosexual – or at least not heterosexual – whose progeny did benefit society. I’ve listed just a few. Feel free to add more fathers to the list. And mothers are welcome too:

• Socrates – Father of Philosophy
Aristotle – Father of Biology (perhaps)
• Leonardo Da Vinci – Father of Flight
• Luco Pacioli – Father of Accounting
• Isaac Newton – Father of Modern Physics
• Nikola Tesla – Father of Radio
• Alan Turing – Father of the Computer

and a whole host of others whose children, though not flesh and blood, continue to live and benefit society long after they are gone: Michelangelo Buonarroti, EM Forster, Noel Coward, Alexander the Great, and the list goes on and on…

Kevin Douglas-Olive Settles with Homophobic In-Laws

Timothy Kincaid

August 15th, 2007

We reported earlier about the legal battle waged against Kevin Douglas-Olive by the parents of his deceased partner, Russell Groff.  The Groffs were insisting that Russell be disinterred and reburied at a site of their choosing and were using the legal system to try and overturn the terms of Russell’s will.

The Washington Blade is now reporting that Douglas-Olive and the Groffs have reached a settlement by which the joint tombstone for the two men would be replaced by two individual stones and the parents would receive some personal items of sentimental value.

This story, along with that of Patrick Atkins,  serve as a reminder that if your state does not have marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships in place, you should not delay in preparing the legal documents that will give you some limited measure of protection.

“Make sure that your affairs are in order early,” [Mark Scurti, Olive's attorney] said. “Don’t wait until your partner is ill or something catastrophic happens.”

Olive agreed. He said that he and Russell erred by waiting until Russell was in the hospital to formalize their legal protections.

“There are so many gay couples running around with no legal documents written up whatsoever,” Olive said. “It’s stupid. Just stupid. It was stupid on our part.”

Concerned Women With Bad Manners

Jim Burroway

December 7th, 2006

Mary Cheney, the daughter of vice president Dick Cheney, is expecting a baby with her partner, Heather Poe, in late spring. Now normally, you’d think that news like this would be greeted with cheers all around. But you’d be wrong:

Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America described the pregnancy as “unconscionable.”

“It’s very disappointing that a celebrity couple like this would deliberately bring into the world a child that will never have a father,” said Crouse, a senior fellow at the group’s think tank. “They are encouraging people who don’t have the advantages they have.” …

Carrie Gordon Earll, a policy analyst for the conservative Christian ministry Focus on the Family, expressed empathy for the Cheney family but depicted the pregnancy as unwise.

“Just because you can conceive a child outside a one-woman, one-man marriage doesn’t mean it’s a good idea,” Earll said. “Love can’t replace a mother and a father.”

Now you see, that’s the difference between Carrie & Janice and me. I was brought up to believe that when someone announces that they are expecting their first child, the proper response is “congratulations.”

And as for their “concern” over Mary and Heather’s child, they needn’t worry. The American Academy of Pediatrics has looked into this and has found nothing to worry about. Focus on the Family will claim that studies “prove” that children need both genders as parents, but the studies themselves say no such thing.

But Janice Crouse isn’t much swayed by science. Her real problem lies in politics:

Not only is she doing a disservice to her child, she’s voiding all the effort her father put into the Bush administration.

Say what you will about Dick Cheney. Many have, and I don’t need to add my opinions except this: I have a feeling that the cold icy exterior that we all see melts in the presence of a grandchild. Dick Cheney has stood by his daughter, I presume because, as is the case with most people, family comes first. Surely the “pro-family” Janice Crouse can recognize that, can’t she?

So everybody needs to relax and offer their congratulations and best wishes for a safe delivery to Mary and Heather.

Love In The Heartland

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2006

A new study was released from William Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law. This study (PDF: 2,130KB/25 pages) examined the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to assess the number of same-sex couples in the U.S. Among some of the highlights:

  • The number of same-sex couples grew more than 30 percent between 2000 and 2005. Of these same-sex couples, 53% are male and 47% are female.
  • Six of the eight states with a 2006 ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage experienced increases greater than the national average. They are Arizona, Colorado, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • The greatest growth occurred in the Midwest, where the number of same-sex couples were generally the fewest in 2000.
  • Same-sex couples can now be found in every Congressional district in the U.S.

The authors give two possible reasons for the increase. They concede that more gays and lesbians may be choosing to settle down and couple-up, but it’s more likely that the increase is due to more couples being willing to identify themselves as a same-sex household to the U.S. Census Bureau.

I think one conclusion that can be drawn from this report is that if same-sex couples are increasingly comfortable with identifying themselves as such, then perhaps this is evidence of a shifting of attitudes in the U.S., especially in the heartland of the Midwest. It also appears that while anti-gay activists make a lot of noise in trying to marginalize gays and lesbians, they aren’t making much headway. Another recent poll found that seven out of ten heterosexuals know someone who is gay. If gays and lesbians are more comfortable with themselves and their place in the community, then the increased visibility can only be a good thing.

Now if only our closeted representatives in Washington would see the light and come on out as well.

Barbara McPherson Doesn’t Want Gay Parents To Be Good Parents

Jim Burroway

September 18th, 2006

Guess what? Focus on the Family, the same group that encourages parents to be deeply involved with their children’s education, doesn’t think gay and lesbian parents should be involved with theirs:

Gay-activist group Family Pride has produced a pamphlet to guide homosexual parents in introducing themselves to their children’s schools.

“Building Family Equality in the Classroom” suggests parents attend the first PTA meeting together and introduce themselves as a couple.

Barbara McPherson, legislative affairs coordinator for the California Family Council, told Family News in Focus such activism doesn’t belong in school.

Isn’t it amazing? James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, made his mark by offering some often persuasive advice on raising children. And he knows quite well (as we all do) that one of the keys to good parenting is for parents to get involved with their children’s education. This means meeting with your child’s teachers and principal, meet some of the other parents of your child’s classmates, get involved in extra-curricular activities, volunteer your time and talents whenever you can — all of this is common-sense advice for all parents.

Because as we all know, parents who take an active interest in all aspects of their child’s life raise children who are less likely to get in trouble, drink, do drugs, get pregnant, and all of those other nasty things we want our children to avoid that can mess up their lives.

But according to Barbara McPherson, the California Family Council, and Focus on the Family, gay and lesbian parents are “activists” when they do the same things that good straight parents do — the same things that all parents should do. But when gay and lesbian parents do these things, they’re not parents but “activists.”

Okay. On second thought, maybe that’s not a bad choice of words. After all, if a parent won’t be an activist for own child, then what kind of a parent is he or she anyway?

You can download Family Pride’s thoughtful brochure here (PDF: 112 KB/2 pages).

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.

Unfocused on the Family

Jim Burroway

July 26th, 2006

Glenn Stanton, of Focus on the Family, finally got around to responding to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ report on why same-sex marriage is important to children of gay and lesbian couples. (I reviewed that article here.) Unfortunately, he seems to have missed the entire point of the report:

“This report essentially says that research shows that gay and lesbian parents can be as loving and caring as heterosexual parents,” he said. “That is not the same as saying that children who grow up in homes in two-female or two-male adult homes do as well as kids who live with their mother and father in important outcome measures.”

The AAP is skirting some very important issues, he said. For example, the study claims “there are more similarities than differences in parenting styles and attitudes of gay and non-gay fathers.”

While sexual orientation does not seem to affect whether parents prefer their kids to eat healthy snacks, get plenty of exercise, read books, limit television viewing and be kind to their friends, Stanton said there are other important factors the study tries to play down or simply ignores.

Those who try to work with this line of reasoning miss a very important point, the very point that prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to commission the report in the first place. Gay and lesbian couples are parents. They have always been parents, and they will always be parents. There is simply nothing anybody can do which will ever change that. Like it or not, these children exist, they are growing up, and they will soon become adults themselves. This report is focused on their needs and how best to address them:

This analysis explores the unique and complex challenges that same-gender couples and their children face as a result of public policy that excludes them from civil marriage. In compiling this report it became clear to the contributing committees and section that the depth and breadth of these challenges are largely unknown to the general public and perhaps even to many pediatricians. As such, the AAP Board of Directors approved the broad dissemination of this analysis to assist pediatricians with addressing the complex issues related to same-gender couples and their children.

That’s why they wrote the report: To inform everyone what those challenges are, and why marriage is so important:

In all its work, the AAP is committed to calling attention to the inextricable link between the health and well-being of all children, the support and encouragement of all parents, and the protection of strong family relationships. This analysis was prepared to bring to light the legal, financial, and psychosocial ramifications of recent and proposed public-policy initiatives affecting same-gender parents and their children.

Civil marriage is a legal status that promotes healthy families by conferring a powerful set of rights, benefits, and protections that cannot be obtained by other means. Civil marriage can help foster financial and legal security, psychosocial stability, and an augmented sense of societal acceptance and support. Legal recognition of a spouse can increase the ability of adult couples to provide and care for one another and fosters a nurturing and secure environment for their children. Children who are raised by civilly married parents benefit from the legal status granted to their parents.

You can’t find a stronger endorsement of family values than that.

So, given the very real existence of these children in gay- and lesbian-led families, what exactly would Focus on the Family suggest we do to remove the many roadblocks that these parents face every day so they can provide the best care for their children? We know that Focus on the Family would like gays and lesbians to go away — that’s why they promote and finance ex-gay ministries. Do they have something in mind to make their kids go away too?

What does Focus propose for the children who are already being raised by gays and lesbian couples now and in the future? Don’t these children count? Was Glenn Stanton’s boss really serious when he backed extremely limited domestic partnership benefits in Colorado? James Dobson sure seems to have lost his voice since then. Maybe he took too much heat from fellow conservatives.

Or maybe Focus on the Family can only focus on one kind of family?

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.

Arkansas Supreme Court Okays Foster Parenting for Gays and Lesbians

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2006

This is an important red-state development. In a 7-0 decision, the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down that state’s policy against allowing gays and lesbians to become foster parents, saying:

There is no correlation between the health, welfare and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual.

The court further noted that the Child Welfare Agency Review Board, which established the policy, was motivated “not to promote the health, safety and welfare of foster children but rather [was] based upon the board’s views of morality and its bias against homosexuals.”

Among the many charges that were raised in lower court arguments by supporters of the ban were of supposedly higher rates of pedophilia among homosexuals. But the lower court judge was able to see through that smokescreen and rejected the “expert” testimony of Dr. George Rekers, who is famous for misrepresenting social science research of child sexual abuse to try to draw a link between homosexuality and pedophilia. Hopefully, this decision will become another nail in that coffin.

You can learn more about the supposed link between homosexuality and child sexual abuse in our report, Testing the Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Update: Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee wants the legislature to re-impose the ban. With gubernatorial elections looming in the fall, you can count on a long hot Ozark summer.

Paul Cameron Strikes Again

This time he recruited Cambridge University Press for his efforts.

Jim Burroway

April 15th, 2006

Journal of Biosocial ScienceThe May 2006 edition of the Journal of Biosocial Science includes an article by Paul Cameron, entitled “Children of homosexuals and transsexuals more apt to be homosexual.” It should come as no surprise to those who have been following his career that this article carries all of his traditional hallmarks: a hostile premise, a weak methodology, deliberate mischaracterization of the works of others, unproven conclusions, and a flagrant bias throughout. What’s very disturbing is that Cambridge University Press has been made complicit in the cause of anti-gay extremism.

I learned last January that that JBS had accepted his article for publication in a forthcoming issue. So I wrote to the editors, explaining the many problems with Dr. Cameron’s history anti-gay extremism. After all, they’re British, and most of them are anthropologists — maybe they don’t know about his history. I even sent electronic copies of recent articles about him from the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal so they wouldn’t have to take my word for it. I contacted other authors whose work was misused in Dr. Cameron’s article, and some of them wrote to the editors as well. My only response came from Caroline Gallimore, associate editor, on January 16, 2006:

Thank you for comments on the forthcoming article by Paul Cameron. These are being considered by the Editor and we will get back to you soon.

I guess perhaps I was a bit naïve. I had hoped that at the end of the day, reason and sanity would prevail among these learned academics. But that single, two-sentence e-mail turned out to be the last (and only) response I received from them.

It is unconscionable that the editors went forward with this article. Nevertheless, Dr. Cameron has now had his say; it’s time for a rebuttal. You can read my point-by-point analysis in Paul Cameron Conquers Cambridge.

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