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Posts for November, 2008

Danish Study Refutes Paul and Kirk Cameron

Timothy Kincaid

November 13th, 2008

In April 2007, anti-gay “researcher” Paul Cameron and his son Kirk sent out a press release claiming that studied information from Denmark that proved that gay men died on average 20 years younger than their heterosexual counterparts. Jim Burroway provided a very thorough refutation of the Camerons’ claims, showing them to be nonsense and bigotry.

Also interested in the Camerons’ claims was Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor teaching at Grove City College, a small liberal arts college with a conservative evangelical philosophy. Dr. Throckmorton’s beliefs about homosexuality support traditional faith positions, primarily in the way in which a same-sex attracted person lives their life (i.e. in accordance with the confines of their faith).

But Throckmorton is no fan of bogus claims or fraudulent statistics. He contacted Morten Frisch, a prominent epidemiologist in Denmark, and asked him to review Cameron’s work. Frisch was unhesitatingly critical of the Cameron’s claims.

Although the Camerons’ report has no objective scientific value, the authors should be acknowledged for providing teachers with a humorous example of agenda-driven, pseudo-scientific gobbledygook that will make lessons in elementary study design and scientific inference much more amusing for future epidemiology students.

Well it now appears that Dr. Frisch was not content with dismissing the Camerons’ statements. Dr. Throckmorton is reporting that Frisch and colleague Henrik Brønnum-Hansen followed up with a study of their own and found the opposite of what the anti-gay activist had claimed. Throckmorton’s initial assessment is:

Frisch and Brønnum-Hansen found that Danish men marrying soon after the Danish same-sex marriage law was enacted had markedly higher death rates than men in the general Danish population. They speculate that these men were ill, ordinarily with AIDS or AIDS related illnesses, but also from other life-threatening diseases, and wanted to marry to establish rights of survivorship or other benefits for a surviving spouse. However, the mortality for homosexual men marrying after 1996 is virtually the same as for heterosexual men in Denmark. Thus, since HIV/AIDS has been more successfully managed, the mortality rates have declined dramatically. [emphasis added]

Thanks to Dr. Frisch for following up and to Dr. Throckmorton for his analysis.

Prop. 8 Post-Mortem: Was There A Gay Bradley Effect?

Gregory Herek

November 12th, 2008

Was the passage of Prop. 8 always a foregone conclusion, despite poll results throughout the summer and early fall showing most likely voters opposed it?

Or were the major polls correct, and the sentiment of California voters actually shifted in the weeks leading up to Election Day, from opposition to support?

Throughout the election campaign, supporters and opponents of marriage equality maintained that survey results consistently understate support for antigay ballot measures because many respondents wish not to appear bigoted to a pollster.

The existence of a racial Bradley effect -­ i.e., a pattern in which the polls’ accuracy is affected by significant numbers of racist Whites lying to pollsters and saying they would vote for a Black candidate ­ has been widely disputed, and wasn’t evident in polling this year.

But was there a gay Bradley effect in California?

In my latest post at Beyond Homophobia, I review data from the Prop. 8 pre-election and exit polls and conclude that there is no evidence that survey respondents said they would vote No when they actually supported the measure.

Rather, the polls suggest that the No vote was shrinking in the weeks leading up to the election, and this trend probably continued right up to Election Day. Add to this the unexpectedly high turnout among key voter groups — which increased their impact on the outcome beyond what pollsters had projected — and the fact that many undecided voters ultimately supported the measure, and the final results are not difficult to reconcile with pre-election polls.

Thus, we can use the poll data as a tool for better understanding how the various strategies pursued by each side between May and November ultimately affected the outcome of the election.

You can read the entire analysis at Beyond Homophobia.

Gay Vote Remains 4%

Timothy Kincaid

November 8th, 2008

Those persons who were willing to identify as gay or lesbian to exil pollsters remained constant in 2008 at 4%. That translates to roughly five million voters.

This percentage is consistent with exit polling in 2004 and 2000.

Proposition 8 and Race

Timothy Kincaid

November 8th, 2008

One of the lessons learned in the vote on Proposition 8 is that Black and Hispanic voters did not support marriage equality. Because of the inexact nature of exit polling, and because of the rounding of percentages, it is difficult to state anything with certainty, but the following seems to be correct:

It appears that Black voters determined the passage of Proposition 8. Although some sites claim that this is not the case, by my calculation if the Black vote is excluded from the count, the Proposition would have just slightly less than half of the votes needed to pass. It appears that if just 50% of black voters had voted against institutionalized discrimination this amendment would have failed been statistically even.

Hispanic voters supported the amendment 53% to 47%. This split, while nearly offsetting the non-Hispanic white vote, was not enough of a split to cause the amendment to pass.

There was also a gender divide. White women were 4% less likely to support the proposition and Latino women were 2% less likely.

However, in what seems to be an inconsistency, black women seem to have favored the proposition significantly more than black men. Women supported it by 75% while the black population as a whole polled at 70%. This suggests that black men may have been as much as 13% less likely than black women to support this initiative. It is difficult to understand what this result may be saying.

It is important to recall that the Yes on 8 Campaign deliberately lied to and deceived black voters. They funded mailers and the robocalls falsely implying that Sen. Obama was in favor of Prop 8. Going forward we must be aware that anti-gay activists, including the hierarchy of the Mormon and Catholic churches, will say or do anything in a campaign, no matter how dishonest, and that they have now been rewarded for their duplicity and deceit.

UPDATE: To help understand my statements, I’ve placed my calculation below. Please understand that this is from the exit polls and not from the actual vote. This is subject to all sorts of rounding errors which are greatly increased by multiplying. Further, note that the actual voting results show that the proposition passed with 52.4%, which is larger than the 51.9% on the below grid.

  Voters Yes
Vote
% Total
Yes
No
Vote
% Total
No
White 63% 49% 30.9% 51% 32.1%
Latino 18% 53% 9.5% 47% 8.5%
Asian 6% 49% 2.9% 51% 3.1%
Other 3% 51% 1.5% 49% 1.5%
Total Non-Black 90%   44.9%   45.1%
Black 10% 70% 7.0% 30% 3.0%
Total w/Black 100%   51.9%   48.1%

Please also note that the purpose of this commentary is NOT to assign blame to our African-American neighbors. There is plenty of blame to spread around, and I place most of it at the feet of those who ran a campaign of complete dishonesty.

Latest SurveyUSA Poll Slightly Positive

Timothy Kincaid

November 3rd, 2008

SurveyUSA has been polling discouragingly for the past month:

October 6

Yes 47%
No 42%

October 17

Yes 48%
No 45%

Today SurveyUSA released a poll that shows the proposition to be slightly failing.

Yes 47%
No 50%

I don’t place too much faith in SurveyUSA. However, I am encouraged that their polling is showing a trend towards a No vote.

Field Poll: Proposition 8 Very Close

Timothy Kincaid

October 31st, 2008

The Field Poll has been tracking likely voter support for Proposition 8 since equal marriage became legal. Previous polls have been released on May 28, July 18, and September 18. Trends were showing that there was a comfortable advantage to the opponents of the proposition.

Today a new poll was released (pdf). And it is not as encouraging. The No vote has decreased to less 49% and the Yes vote has risen to 44%.

There is mixed wisdom about using polls to predict vote outcome. There are a number of considerations; a few are:

The Bradley Effect. Named after California gubernatorial candidate Tom Bradley, this is the premise that some white voters will tell pollsters that they support a black candidate out of desire to appear politically correct even though they will, out of prejudice, vote for the white alternative. Although Bradley held a significant lead in most polls, he lost the election to George Deukmejian.

The Default No. There is a presumption that voters who are uncertain about propositions will vote no by default. While there are not likely to be many voters who are unaware of Proposition 8, the default no could impact some of those who are undecided.

The poll also revealed other relevant information about voter demographics. Most of it is about at expected. But the most important determinant will be the extent to which Obama voters turn out at the polls on Tuesday – early voters are expected to trend against us.

Analysis: A Closer Look At Those Prop. 8 Poll Numbers

Gregory Herek

October 23rd, 2008

Ever since California county clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples last June, Proposition 8 ­- the proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate marriage equality ­- has appeared likely to lose at the ballot box. Throughout the summer, statewide surveys from the Field Research Corporation and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) consistently found that the measure lacked majority support. In fact, it was opposed by more than 50% of likely voters.

But earlier this month, a new poll of Californians’ voting intentions on Proposition 8 was released, sponsored by several CBS local affiliates and conducted by SurveyUSA. Here’s a section of the news report on the poll findings:

“According to the poll, likely California voters overall now favor passage of Proposition 8 by a five-point margin, 47 percent to 42 percent. Ironically, a CBS 5 poll eleven days prior found a five-point margin in favor of the measure’s opponents….”

This was a surprising shift, and the poll results have received a lot of media attention.

In my latest post at Beyond Homophobia, I analyze those recent polling data. I conclude that the SurveyUSA polls probably are more or less accurately stating the number of likely voters who support Prop. 8, but are undercounting the number who oppose it. The statewide polls conducted by Field and the PPIC -­ both of which show Proposition 8 losing ­- are probably more accurate.

Nevertheless, marriage equality supporters can’t afford to be complacent. The race is likely to tighten in the next two weeks, and the outcome will ultimately depend on voter turnout. So it’s important to continue to donate to the No On 8 campaign, to speak out against the measure, and to make sure that your family and friends vote.

PPIC Survey: Prop 8 is Behind

Timothy Kincaid

October 22nd, 2008

At the end of August the Public Policy Institute of California released a survey showing that Proposition 8 was trailing among likely voters by 54% to 40%. A new poll released today shows that while the supporters of Prop 8 have made some progress, at two weeks out the initiative is still likely to fail.

Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that would end same-sex marriage in California, is losing among likely voters, 52 percent to 44 percent, according to a statewide survey released today by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Although this is encouraging news, their polling shows that the Yes on 8 Campaign ads are being effective in reaching certain populations, particularly Republicans. The proposition has picked up eight points among Republicans since September (from 62% to 70%).

Demographic turnout could impact the final vote

At least half of men, women, Latinos, and whites oppose Proposition 8. Regionally, majorities of likely voters in the San Francisco Bay Area (67%) and Los Angeles (55%) are opposed. But majorities in the Central Valley (54%) and in the “Other Southern California” region that includes Orange, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties (52%) favor the measure.

Oct 15-16 SurveyUSA Poll Shows Not Much Change

Timothy Kincaid

October 17th, 2008

CBS5 has a new SurveyUSA poll out today and it is not much different from the one released on October 6th.

The poll of 615 likely voters released Friday found that 48 percent favored Proposition 8, while 45 percent planned to vote against the measure. Seven percent said they were not yet certain.

The poll has a four percent margin of sampling error.

The last poll found that 47 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed. It is difficult to draw any conclusions from this new poll or to show any shift in the electorate.

As I said on the 6th, I don’t put much trust in the SurveyUSA polling methodology. And in reviewing the breakout, some things seem illogical. For example, voters age 50-64 are more likely to vote “no” than voters 18-34 or 35-49. This seems inconsistent with what socialogists have noted in trends of acceptance.

Additionally, this poll finds Asian-American voters opposing Prop 8 by 48% to 42%, while a recent survey of Asian-American voting intentions found opposition to be 57% to 32%.

However, this poll should inspire us to greater efforts.

New Poll on Prop 8 is Troubling

Timothy Kincaid

October 6th, 2008

A new SurveyUSA poll has a troubling finding:

According to the poll, likely California voters overall now favor passage of Proposition 8 by a five-point margin, 47 percent to 42 percent. Ironically, a CBS 5 poll eleven days prior found a five-point margin in favor of the measure’s opponents.

The only demographic group to significantly change their views during this period were younger voters — considered the hardest to poll and the most unpredictable voters — who now support the measure after previously opposing it.

I’m not sure what to make of this poll. I don’t put much trust in SurveyUSA. And the idea that younger voters would support a marriage ban seems to run contrary to every report, poll, survey or casual observation for the past several years.

But I do know that No on 8 is concerned and needs every dollar it can get along with every single spare minute that you may be able to contribute.

Proposition 8: Words Matter

Gregory Herek

September 20th, 2008

In previous postings, I’ve explained how studies have shown that some survey respondents are more reluctant to forbid or ban something than to simply “not allow” it.

Applied to California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that aims to amend the state constitution to bar same-sex couples from marrying, this research suggests that at least some voters might be influenced by how the ballot measure is worded. They may be less likely to support a proposition framed as banning marriage equality, and more likely to support one that is framed as simply defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Now the latest Field Poll shows that the wording does have an impact, mainly on the 30% of likely California voters who aren’t already knowledgeable about Proposition 8.

When the ballot measure was framed as eliminating marriage rights for same-sex couples (as it will be in the official ballot summary), a whopping 58% of this group opposed it. By contrast, only a plurality (42%) opposed the measure when it was described as a “limit on marriage” — the wording favored by Proposition 8 backers.

In my latest post at Beyond Homophobia, I discuss the Field Poll findings in greater detail and consider their implications for the final seven weeks of the Proposition 8 campaign. Although the latest survey results are more good news for marriage equality supporters, they shouldn’t be cause for complacency. The amendment can still pass if its supporters turn out their voters in disproportionate numbers.

Prop 8′s Message to Youth: Blatant Lies and Transparent Bigotry

Timothy Kincaid

September 9th, 2008

The supporters of Proposition 8 have set up a website geared towards youth at iProtectMarriage.com. And perhaps they think that adults are too well informed because they reserve their really crazy homophobic slurs and lies for the kiddies.

It’s horrible.

And not just their goal, but their message and their methods. It’s sad and pathetic and completely condescending. You have to wonder if the designer of the site has ever met a young adult.

There is a “Decide for Yourself video quiz” that you can take in which your response triggers either a “you’re right” message or a lecture from a pop-up talking head. It’s about as subtle as a freight train.

And it is astonishing the number of obvious and blatant lies that these “people of faith” are willing to spout in the name of their religion, including:

While death, divorce, and other circumstances may prevent it in many cases, the best environment for raising children is traditional marriage. More than ten thousand studies document significant advantages kids experience when raised by committed and loving moms and dads.

  • Two parent families benefit children according to the APA, not just “traditional” marriage. These studies DID NOT compare heterosexual couples to gay couples; they compared heterosexual couples to heterosexual singles.

If same-sex marriage remains legal, what will happen if a church or religious institution refuses to perform a marriage ceremony for individuals that runs contrary to its belief system? If it refuses, it may be accused of discrimination and be subject to a lawsuit. That is not freedom of religion.

  • What if the Catholic Church refuses to marry divorced couples or a Jewish Synogogue refuses to marry non-Jews or if a Mormon Church doesn’t recognize a marriage outside of a Temple … oh wait, they already do.

Prop. 8 isn’t against something, it’s for marriage, of one man, one woman, for life.

  • For life? Really? I didn’t see the language that banned divorce. And not “against” something? HA!! I’m surprised that whoever wrote that didn’t immediately burst into flames.

If Prop. 8 does not pass, children as young as kindergarteners must be taught about same-sex marriage.

Simply put, traditional marriage is better for us, mentally, physically and psychologically. We’re not making it up; public health statistics confirm this.

  • They go on to spout comparison studies between single and married heterosexuals and pretend that they apply to gay couples.

What this means is that fewer of your tax dollars go to pay for social programs caused by unhealthy and unwise living.

  • I thought this “wasn’t against something” and that “civil unions give them the same rights as marriage”. Nah, this is just an example of active homophobia.

Quick, name a major faith tradition that doesn’t support marriage between a man and a woman. Can’t? Neither can we.

Removing the definition of marriage means it’s open to whatever anyone thinks it is, and that includes extreme stuff like polygamy, man-boy love, and multiple partners.

  • No one is “removing the definition of marriage”. Oh, and by the way, if you really aren’t just a great vile puddle of bigotry, why the reference to “man-boy love”? You just couldn’t let that pass, could you?

Same-sex marriage separates marriage from parenthood. In Norway, where it has been accepted for a decade, marriage has nearly disappeared, and 70 percent of children are born out of wedlock.

But by far the most dishonest and cynical thing on their site is this doozie:

Q: Isn’t banning gay marriage just like banning interracial marriage?

A: It’s completely unrelated. Blacks who endured prejudice can’t wake up in the morning and not be black. None of us can be counseled out of our race or ethnicity. But homosexual behavior is a choice, and countless gays and lesbians have left the alternative lifestyle.

Is there really anyone out there that honestly believes that gay people can “wake up in the morning and not be” gay? That isn’t even the message coming from Exodus and other reorientation ministries.

And it isn’t very effective. Today’s youth know full well that no one wakes up a different orientation and they know that this site is lying to them. And the true bias and bigotry displayed here wouldn’t fool a closely-protected, secluded, home-schooled teenager.

But I guess the Prop 8 folks are so cynical that they think that bigotry and bald-faced lies are the way to go. I truly hope that whoever is in charge of the Proposition 8 campaign stays in charge. This sort of lunacy will only help the cause of those who are speaking honestly and in favor of equality.

Poll: No Movement on Proposition 8

Timothy Kincaid

August 28th, 2008

The Public Policy Institute of California released a poll yesterday showing that Proposition 8 continues to have limited appeal.

Proposition 8, which would amend the state Constitution to allow marriage only between a man and a woman, is trailing 40% to 54% among likely voters, according to the poll. In a separate question, pollsters asked respondents if they support or oppose allowing gay men and lesbians to marry. On that question, Californians were evenly split, 47% to 47%.

This is the fourth major poll and it confirms the results of previous polling and seems to illustrate that the LA Times poll was likely an anomaly:

May 20-21, LA Times

54% Yes
35% No

May 17-26, Field Poll (average of two questions)

42% Yes
53% No

July 8-14, Field Poll

42% Yes
51% No

August 12-19, PPIC

40% Yes
54% No

Other than the LA Times poll, these are all within the margin of error and seem to indicate that the opposition to the proposition is fairly solid.

I’ve not seen the response of Yes on Proposition 8, but I can project a couple likely claims.

The anti-marriage activists will likely point to the question about whether Californians favor allowing same-sex couples to marry and announce that less than half of Californians are in favor. They may also claim that this is a decrease (though the PPIC reports that this hasn’t changed since August 2005).

Additionally I suspect that they will point out that anti-marriage Californians are more passionate in their support for Proposition 8; and the PPIC report does support that claim. Of those intending to vote yes, 57% said the outcome is “very important” while only 44% of those opposing Proposition 8 placed the outcome in the highest level of importance. Those stating the results to be “somewhat important” were 29% and 31%, respectively.

However, even if only those who place the highest importance on the results of the vote showed up at the polls, opponents would still outnumber supporters. And if “somewhat important” voters are added in, the proposition would lose in a landslide.

Australian Expert’s Astonishing Claims About Gay Blood Donors

Timothy Kincaid

August 19th, 2008

When Michael Cain was denied the ability to donate blood to Australia’s supply because he had been in a same-sex relationship, he decided to sue. He is claiming that standards should rely upon whether the person engages in unsafe sex practices rather than on their orientation.

Arguing in opposition was Doctor Brenton Wiley

Doctor Brenton Wiley told Hobart’s anti-discrimination tribunal today that the incidence of HIV infection among gay men is more than 1,000 times higher than regular donors.

Well, it would seem that Dr. Wiley is either very poorly informed about the subject for which he is an expert witness or he cannot do simple math.

According to Avert, there were about 15,670 people living with HIV in Australia at the end of 2006, or about 0.078% of the population. If HIV infection were 1,000 higher it would mean that 79% of gay men in Australia have HIV.

Really, Dr. Wiley?

Well we also know that as of 2006 there were roughly 10,650 gay men living with HIV. If Dr. Wiley’s claims were true, Australia would have a total gay male population of 13,500.

Anyone who has seen the hundreds of thousands of revelers at Sydney’s Gay Pride parade alone would have to scoff at Dr. Wiley’s magical math.

The case is before Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Tribunal and UKgaynews reports

only 95 men who have sex with men in Tasmania have HIV, an estimated 0.5% of that group.

New Jersey Still Supports Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

August 19th, 2008

In August 2007, Garden State Equality commissioned a poll from Zogby International to inquire about attitudes of New Jersey residents regarding same-sex marriage. They found that converting civil unions to marriage was acceptable to New Jerseyans.

They have repeated the polling again this year and found that attitudes have held steady or slightly moved in the direction of marriage equality.

When reading commissioned polls, one has to be careful that the questioning itself is not driving the answers. And with eight questions on gay marriage, and one on gay friends, at some point reliance on poll conclusions becomes a bit self-serving. This is especially true when language such as “A recent UCLA study showed that allowing same-sex marriage could add as much as a half a billion dollars to the New Jersey economy in tourism and wedding revenue over the next three years” is included in the question.

But the first question on same-sex marriage follows a series of general questions about the favorable or unfavorable opinions of elected officials and is probably worded in a manner adequate to provide a reasonable indication of public sentiment (though push words like “freedom” are included).

From August 2007:

New Jersey allows gay couples to enter into civil unions but not marry. Do you agree or disagree that New Jersey should give gay couples the same freedom to marry as heterosexual couples?

Agree 48.1%
Disagree 44.6%
Not Sure 7.2%

From August 2008:

Currently, New Jersey lets same-sex couples enter only into civil unions, while California and Massachusetts give same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Do you support or oppose same-sex couples in New Jersey also getting the freedom to marry?

Support 50.1%
Oppose 42.3%
Not Sure 7.6%

Even disallowing a bit for the advocacy language of the questions, I think we can conclude that more residents of New Jersey support same-sex marriage than oppose it.

Insure.com Pulls Cameron Quotes

Timothy Kincaid

August 15th, 2008

insuredotcom.bmpIn June we noticed that Insure.com, an online insurance broker, was making false and defamatory statements about gay men in two of his articles. Specifically, the articles – which were written by Insure.com staff – relied on a non-representative AIDS study from the early 90’s and fraudulent “researcher” Paul Cameron to claim “the life expectancy of gay males to be at least 20 years below average”.

We brought this to the attention of Bob Bland, Insure.com’s CEO, and provided careful documentation and resources to show that he and his site were relying on Paul Cameron’s fraudulent “research” and on deliberately misstated conclusions from an HIV study at the height of the AIDS crisis. Bland promised to look into the situation.

After several inquiries and after the statements stayed up on Insure.com for another six weeks, we deduced that Bland had no intention of verifying our information or of removing the denigrating lies. So we brought the site and its claims to your attention.

In response, Bob Bland angrily accused us of wanting to “bash” him and his business. He also tried to equate orientation with HIV status and stood by Cameron’s dishonesty and his site’s defamatory falsehoods stating that he had “no intention of ‘taking (it) down’ because it contains no factual errors and no editorial bias or slant whatsoever.” For which we awarded him and his company the Certified Cameronite Award.

Now it appears that Bland has become better informed.

Gone is the article claiming that gay men die 20 years younger than their counterparts and in it’s place is one that purports to address The life insurance outlook for HIV-positive gay men.

In short, the life insurance outlook for HIV-positive gay men is identical to that of all HIV-positive persons, whatever their gender or orientation. Persons diagnosed with HIV are categorically turned down when wishing to purchase life insurance. While there is clear indication that HIV infected persons are living longer and that this may not be the death sentence that it once was, insurance companies treat HIV infection like heart disease, breast cancer, and other life threatening diseases: with denial.

But as for sexual orientation, this is not a question asked by insurance companies. Which clearly irks the author of Insure.com’s latest piece.

Life insurance pricing is all about assessing “risk,” but so far no life insurance company has taken the leap to collecting information on MSM and judging them to be engaging in “risky behavior.” Information on individual MSM behavior wouldn’t be verifiable, anyway.

Amusingly, Bland and his insurance site are only able to think of gay persons in terms of sex. His article is all about “behavior”, never acknowledging that gay people are defined by their attractions, not by what they do in bed.

And Insure.com isn’t content with providing information about life insurance coverage but feels it necessary to try and equate homosexuality and HIV infection.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states in a June 2007 report, “HIV/AIDS Among Men Who Have Sex with Men,” that men who have sex with men (MSM) accounted for 71 percent of adult and adolescent males diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2005, thus rendering them ineligible for life insurance coverage at any price. Five to 7 percent of adult and adolescent men identify themselves as MSM, according to the report, so obviously MSM have a much higher risk of contracting the disease — they are anywhere from 32.5 to 46.5 times more likely than other men to be diagnosed. But insurance companies check for the disease, not the behavior.

Missing from that rant is the fact that while HIV is far more prevalent on a pro-rata basis within the gay community, about 88% of gay men and virtually all gay women are HIV-negative.

It’s very evident that Insure.com and its CEO Bob Bland remain dedicatedly anti-gay. And I continue to strongly encourage those persons who are gay and those who have a gay family member or coworker or neighbor or friend to avoid giving their business to an enterprise composed of those who so clearly wish ill of gay men.

But I cannot insist that Bob Bland favor equality and I cannot insist that Insure.com say only favorable things about their gay neighbors. Decency is a way of life that we each choose to adopt or reject. And those who seek to make smearing insinuations do so under a freedom that I cherish.

However, I am also grateful that Insure.com has ceased making statements that are flat-out lies and commend Bland on the removal of Cameron’s bogus “statistics” from his site.

See also:
Aug 15: Insure.com Pulls Cameron Quotes
Jul 17: Certified Cameronite: Insure.com
Jul 14: Insure.com CEO Defends Paul Cameron
Jul 11: Insure.com’s CEO Bob Bland Responds
Jul 11: Insure.com’s Anti-Gay Propaganda

AFA’s Misquoting of the CDC

Timothy Kincaid

August 1st, 2008

We commented earlier on an article in AFA’s OneNewsNow in which Regina Griggs displayed astonishing ignorance about the HIV infection rates of gay youth. Now the editors at AFA have amended the article

Over 70 percent of young kids 13- to 24-years-old, men having sex with men, are now HIV-positive,” Griggs notes. (see editor’s note)

and the editor’s note reads

In June of 2007 the Centers for Disease Control stated that homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of all HIV infections.

Well now that’s an interesting statistic (though entirely irrelevant to Grigg’s claim). But what do they mean?

Is AFA saying that homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of recent infections? The CDC Report (pdf) states:

MSM (49%) and persons exposed through high-risk heterosexual contact (32%) accounted for 81% of all HIV/AIDS cases diagnosed in 2005. [the most recent year reported ; emphasis added]

Is AFA saying that homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of total persons living with HIV/AIDS?

By sex, 73% of adults and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS were male.

Of the estimated 341,524 male adults and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS, 61% had been exposed through male-to-male sexual contact, 18% had been exposed through injection drug use, 13% had been exposed through high risk heterosexual contact, and 7% had been exposed through both male-to-male sexual contact and injection drug use. [In other words, half: (61% + 7%) * 73% = 50% ; emphasis added]

Although the report provides information by ethnicity, location, age at transmission, cumulative deaths, and much more, I was unable to find any statistic that could be interpreted to state that “homosexual sex accounted for 71 percent of all HIV infections”.

(hat tip to reader Neil H)

HIV/AIDS in the Gay Community

Timothy Kincaid

July 31st, 2008

ribbon.jpgAnti-gays often seek to portray all gay persons as diseased. There is a presumption that HIV/AIDS is an automatic consequence of “homosexual behavior” and that all gay persons (gay men in particular) are contagious and dangerous.

Just this week, PFOX’s Regina Griggs made the outlandish claim that 70% of all gay youth aged 13 to 24 are now HIV-positive. And last month we spent considerable time trying to educate Insure.com’s Robert Bland that HIV has not reduced the average age at death of gay men by 20 years.

But in the process of responding to Bland’s homophobic claim, I found that there did not appear to be an easily accessed answer as to just how many gay people are infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. So I set out to make some calculations of my own.

It is very difficult to say with certainty exactly what percentage of gay persons are living with HIV/AIDS for a number of reasons:

  • Difficulty in estimating the gay population
  • Difficulty in estimating the total number of persons infected with HIV
  • Difficulty in estimating those infected with HIV that are gay or bisexual

However, I’ve taken the best source information I could find and made some assumptions. Wherever possible I’ve erred on the side of caution and my estimations propably understate the total number of gay persons and overstate the extent to which gay persons are infected.

Here is what I’ve found:

  • There are at least 5.3 million gay and bisexual men and 5.5 million gay and bisexual women over the age of 15 living in the United States today, for a cumulative GLB Community of at least 10.8 million people.
  • Around 12.3% of gay and bisexual men – 6.0% of the Gay Community – are living with HIV/AIDS.

For detail about by assumptions and the sources for my calculations, see our new page:

The Prevalence of HIV in the Gay Community

Insure.com’s CEO Bob Bland Responds

Timothy Kincaid

July 11th, 2008

insuredotcom.bmpEarlier today we reported that we have been trying for over a month to get Insure.com to remove false and defamatory articles from their website. Specifically, the articles – which were written by Insure.com staff – rely on a non-representative AIDS study from the early 90′s and fraudulent “researcher” Paul Cameron to claim “the life expectancy of gay males to be at least 20 years below average”.

The CEO of Insure.com, Bob Bland, has replied:

Box Turtle Bulletin is too anxious to bash Insure.com and you posted private e-mails from me to you without my permission, which says more about you than me. I’ve been open and forthright in dealing with Box Turtle’s many recent inquiries.

The article(s) you’ve referenced are but one or two over 3,000 that we have posted at Insure.com since 1996.

This particular article talks about third party studies that have claimed that homosexuals have a markedly different life expectancy than heterosexuals. We posted this as a human interest story from an actuarial standpoint and without any political agenda whatsoever and without comment as to the accuracy of the third party research.

One’s sexual orientation has no bearing on how a life insurance agency, including ours, would go about quoting life insurance.

We represent 35 leading life insurance companies and do not know of any that ask about sexual orientation at the time of quoting or at anytime during underwriting. Furthermore, sexual orientation is NOT considered or asked about in the quoting or underwriting of a life insurance policy. When quoting a life insurance policy, we, as an agent and broker, ask only those questions that are required to be asked by each life insurance company, which is typically an exhaustive set of 50-100 questions about one’s health history, past and current. Every U.S. life insurance company that I know of does ask each applicant if they are HIV positive and, to the best of my knowledge, each company will automatically then decline such an applicant, so apparently the life underwriters are convinced that that medical condition is somehow relative to one’s longevity.

As I explained to you earlier this week we’ve been delayed in having our writers and editors take a another look at this article, but still expect to do so over the next 4 weeks because we want to make certain that we encompass all available current research on this topic.

Once again, Insure.com has no political agenda on this issue and never has had any such agenda.

The Insure.com article making the claim that gay men die 20 years younger remains an available part of the “impartial insurance information” provided in their “vast library of originally authored insurance articles and decision-making tools” while Mr. Bland makes certain that he encompasses all available current research on this topic.

See also:
Aug 15: Insure.com Pulls Cameron Quotes
Jul 17: Certified Cameronite: Insure.com
Jul 14: Insure.com CEO Defends Paul Cameron
Jul 11: Insure.com’s CEO Bob Bland Responds
Jul 11: Insure.com’s Anti-Gay Propaganda

Fun With Polls

Timothy Kincaid

June 4th, 2008

In the wake of the California Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality, there have been several polls attempting to measure the reaction of the state’s citizens. They have had conflicting results.

An LA Times poll reported May 23 tells us that Californians oppose gay marriage by 52% to 41%. A Field poll released five days later reported just the opposite, that Californians favor gay marriage by 51% to 42%.

If we believe a survey by the anti-gay activist group Capital Resource Institute, Californians support banning gay marriage by 56%. If we were to accept a USA Today / Gallup poll as it is being reported, we would believe that two thirds of Americans favor gay marriage.

Why are there so many contradictory conclusions? Part of the answer can be found in the way that questions are presented.

Take, for example, the USA Today poll. In this, the respondent was asked to determine if the decision to marry was “strictly a private decision between the two people” or whether “the government has the right to pass laws to prohibit or allow such marriages” for a series of hypothetical couples. Respondents were asked about mixed religion and mixed race marriages along with same sex couples.

The dichotomy between “private” and “government prohibition” along with the grouping of same-sex with mixed-marriage and mixed-faith couples is almost certain to yield results that have little or no reflection on how most Americans view gay marriage.

There are undoubtedly those who think that a union between two persons of the same-sex should be private but who also believe that it should not be recognized by the state. And without the leading questions about currently illegal marriage prohibitions, the respondants would not be coached into rejecting same-sex prohibitions.

These types of polls where a desired result is falsely constructed are called “push polls” and are favorites of political campaigns that seek to present their candidate or issue as a winner.

The claims of the anti-gay Capital Resource Institute can also be dismissed completely. CRI didn’t even pretend to use a credible polling agency, relying instead on an advertising agency that “ensure[s] that [their] political, public policy and service organization clients have their messages reach the households they have targeted, usually based on location or anticipated household demographics.”

But neither the LA Times nor the Field poll were constructed to yield a desired result. The Times asked:

Do you approve or disapprove of the California Supreme Court’s decision last week to allow same-sex marriage in California?

and allowed “strongly approve”, “somewhat approve”, “somewhat disapprove”, “strongly disapprove”, and “don’t know” as answers. The Field Poll allowed only “approve”, “disapprove” or “no opinion” and asked:

Do you approve or disapprove of California allowing homosexuals to marry members of their own sex and have regular marriage laws apply to them?

The questions about voting on the constitutional amendment were also similarly worded:

Times: A proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution that may appear on the November ballot would reverse the court’s decision and state that marriage is only between a man and a woman. If the election were held today, would you vote for or against the amendment.

Field: There may be a vote on this issue in the November election. Would you favor or oppose having the state constitution prohibit same-sex marriage, by defining marriage as only between a man and a woman?

The Times found the amendment passing 51% to 36% and the Field Poll found it failing 51% to 43%.

So how do we decide which poll to believe? Are we to be encouraged or worried?

ABC New’s polling director, Gary Langer, provides some guidance:

Sample differences can matter (the Times poll was among all adult Californians, the Field Poll among registered voters only, and both noted big differences among areas of the state and demographic groups). Timing can matter, too (the Field Poll was done May 17-26, an unusually long 10-day field period; the Times poll, May 20-21, a short one). So can the order of questions, and these are worth a look.

Langer states that “Both polls are high-quality, with clear, balanced questions” and does not conclude as to which poll best reflects public sentiment.

So I guess the answer is that it’s just not possible to tell at this time.

For those who need extra encouragement, you can look to how well the Field Poll compared to California’s Proposition 22, an initiative that restricted marriage (on a stututory level) to opposite-sex couples. If we can guestimate from this graph, in 2000 about 40% of Californians supported gay marriage. About 39% of California voters opposed the proposition. This suggests that the Field Poll is not necessarily far off from the opinions of voters.

However, as the conflicting polls show, opinion on this issue is difficult to measure and may be subject to influence. It is of utmost importance that a carefully crafted campaign be designed and funded to appeal to the better nature of California voters.

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